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In its opening scenes, the first narrative feature from The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle feels like a documentary. Shooting cinema-verite style, Moselle’s camera watches as 18-year-old Latina skater Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) gets violently “credit-carded” by her board, blood pouring from between her legs. It’s visceral, almost too shocking to be made up.
Yet Moselle’s hybrid project is scripted, based on her experiences spent with the real life Skate Kitchen, an all-female skate collective based in the Lower East Side in Manhattan. Marooned at home in Long Island with her overprotective mother, Camille lives vicariously through Skate Kitchen’s Instagram posts and even slides into their DMs. Eventually, she plucks up the courage to meet the multi-ethnic group of gorgeous teenage hipsters and begins to roll – and ride – with their crew behind her mum’s back. Loner Camille finds community among loudmouthed lesbian Kurt (Nina Moran, the most naturally charismatic of the group) and the warm, welcoming Janay (Ardelia Lovelace), and begins a flirtation with Jaden Smith’s photographer Devon.
With its alternative R&B soundtrack (think Khalid, Migos and Princess Nokia) and sun-dipped cinematography, the film looks and sounds like a fashion film (or at its lowest ebb, an Urban Outfitters commercial), which makes sense given that it was born from a short Moselle made for luxury clothing brand Miu Miu. Yet I can’t shake the inkling that it would’ve worked better as straight documentary. Moments that see the young women spitballing about sexism, tampons, gaslighting and the way that girls “overthink” all feel natural and spontaneous. But an orgiastic excursion to an underground rave, and a subplot about Camille’s complicated home life come off as awkward, performative contortions of the story, as though Moselle doesn’t have enough conviction in her characters to be interesting as they are.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Skate Kitchen review – half-baked tales of New York’s high rollers | Film