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Published on February 8th, 2011 | by dinglesurf


Review – Chalet Girl

Let’s get this straight. I don’t watch T4. I don’t have Twilight posters splashed all over my room. And I don’t navigate my iPod to my latest Lady GaGa playlist every time I turn it on. And therefore I am probably not within the target demographic for first time director Phil Traill’s Chalet Girl. But I do (don’t tell the lads down the pub this) enjoy a good rom-com, and one that is set upon the backdrop of extreme sports and has comedy legends, Bill Nighy and Bailey in the cast, I am willing to give a go…

Chalet Girl sees feisty skateboard prodigy Kim Matthews (played with admirable spirit by Felicity Jones) propelled into the upper-class world of a glitzy Alpine ski resort when she is forced to become the breadwinner for her family after the untimely death of her mother. In the space of one winter season she manages to fulfill her duties as the titular chalet girl, win the respect of her uppity co-workers, fall in love with her employer’s son and (slight spoiler alert) become World Snowboard Champion in the process. Busy girl!

In other hands this could have been an interesting coming of age drama, a Greg Motalla’s Adventureland on ice (well snow to be precise) if you will. But while Motalla’s film heads for the Black Run of teenage angst and heartbreak, Chalet Girl opts for the Learner Slope, staying comfortably in the realms of something you can watch with your little sister.

The central romance does work well, as banker’s son Johnny (Ed Westwick doing his best ‘Robert Pattinson with a tan’ impression) is slowly charmed by his new wisecracking housekeeper.  It is in the supporting characters that the two leads are let down as almost all are rendered as lazy comedy stereotypes. From Ken Duken’s gnarly ski bum, Brooke Shield’s snooty disapproving Mother, to poor Bill Bailey. Who, as the hapless father left holding the fort is given little else to do but eat his way through the film. Nighy as the successful businessman footing the bill for all this fairs slightly better, and there is at least a small character arc for Tasmin Egerton’s rival chalet girl to deal with.

To elevate Chalet Girl to anything above teenage drama fodder, Traill would have to bring some flair to the skiing set pieces. Sadly his style is very tele-visual, choosing to shoot most of the action from a distance. Not even bothering to use anything as innovative as a helmet mounted camera to add some spice to the proceedings. And by the grand finale the whole thing looks like an extended photo-shoot for Roxy’s latest winter range. And it’s obvious that more time was spent making sure that the company logos were in shot, than creating a dramatic climax.

The rags to riches storyline, strong female lead and the brooding Ed Westwick will no doubt be enough to engage the tween market for it’s running time. However the waste of such potential talent, the cynical product placement and the embarrassment of watching Nighy singing along to the end credit montage was enough for me to send this Chalet Girl her P45.

Weird, I have a sudden urge to go buy a ski jacket…

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About the Author

Owner of Europe's most westerly surf shop. But is much more likely to be found in the cinema or with a Wii remote in his hand than in the sea.

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