Raising more questions than it wants to answer, Steep, which opens in New York, Los Angeles and selected wintery climes this weekend, provides picturesque, positive propaganda about "wild skiing" and other snowy "out of bounds" activities that go far beyond the strictures of winter resorts and stretch to the breaking point the boundaries of what a man on skis can achieve. Make no mistake, this is a man's world: only two women appear on screen, one who is celebrated for skiing like "a dude with a ponytail" (or words to that effect) while the other is praised for her tolerance and loyal support of her husband's adventures. To a person, though, every skier is shown to be an enthusiastic, rational human being, well aware of the dangers involved yet compelled to keep leaping off tall buildings in a single bound -- er, make that, ski down incredibly steep mountains with breathless anticipation.
The words "daredevil" and "thrill-seeker" are never spoken, though I imagine that, like myself, many civilians might call to mind a syndicated 1970s television series that allowed couch potatoes to watch people risk their lives in every segment. Here the argument is made that, at least for a few, it's not as much of a risk if you're truly skilled at what you're doing. The evidence on display plainly speaks to the point that the skiers are tremendously talented, finely-tuned athletes. Quite often the footage frames the tiny figures of skiers against immense backdrops of magnificent mountain ranges that are staggering in their beauty. The athletes appear to defy gravity by remaining upright while descending incredibly sleep slopes -- we're informed that slopes of more than 50 degrees are preferred.