Sometimes truth can be more unlikely than fiction. A true story can grip an audience much more than even the best thriller. A lot of this can be attributed to jeopardy. We know bigshot Hollywood stars aren’t going to die but what about a person we don’t know? With their last film, Free Solo, Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi scored a huge hit. While their new outing, The Rescue, is less cinematic, it’s fascinating viewing.
In 2018, the eyes of the world turned to the Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. A junior football team and their assistant coach became trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave, one of the largest systems in the country. Heavy rains at the start of the monsoon season produced a rapid rise in water levels. As rescue attempts stalled, help flooded in from abroad. The Rescue documents the dangerous race against tie to save them.
Using a mix of actual footage and clever reconstructions, The Rescue guides viewers through almost three weeks of tense and gripping highs and lows. Chin and Vasarhelyi’s documentary does a great job of balancing detail with spectacle. This mix draws the audience in, immersing them in the frontline of the search and rescue mission, while giving them the facts. The Rescue is thwart and vital non-fiction filmmaking.
The Rescue screens at Toronto International Film Festival.