Jun 22, 2020

Ride the wave with specacularly gifted athlete adventurers from the mountains to the oceans.


Grade: B

Director: Thierry Donard (Perfect Moment)

Screenplay: Donard

Cast: Wille Lindberg

Runtime: 1h 55m

By: John DeSando

After being cooped up by the pandemic, Magnetic is a documentary to be enjoyed for its beauty and superficiality, a no-brainer visual adventure with numerous talented male athletes (from New Zealand to Tahiti). If this exciting extreme-sport doc—big mountain skiing to speed surfing through narrow canyons, and just about any other physical challenge imaginable—doesn’t make you want to join them, then you’ve been inside too long (haven’t we all?).

With the advent of GoPro and drone photography, the footage fills the screen with splendid nature and superb athletes, who toss and turn in the air and on the waves to dizzying and ballet-like movements. Needless to say, my reporting is leagues away from the accuracy of the actual cinematography, which even more so glorifies every impossibly graceful move.

I’m failing to wax poetic because this sun-drenched heroism needs to be seen, preferably on the biggest screen nearest to you, and not heard from me.

The imperfection of this bright doc comes not on the slopes or the waves but rather in the cultural ripples: One woman, who is a champion, but only one woman and all these white guys (an athlete of island-color does appear now and then). Diversity is not a priority.

Maybe more importantly, these athletes appear to have not a financial worry, and maybe social either, as they occupy a remote place in a society which has cultural issues frequently deadly. Adding to this frustrating situation is that the only commentary or voiceover comes from the participants, who in almost all cases are inarticulate about the beauty of their world.

When one towheaded star talks about how the ocean is there for him, and he will be there for the ocean, I wondered if perhaps spending a bit more time in school would help them all become more poetic or at least insightful about the beauty of their sports. Yet they are focused and superior at what they do—more than many of us can say about our own lives.

The biggest wave is in Portugal, and a monster it is. This is only one of the many visual delights of a light documentary in our heavy times.   

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at