Review: Chalet Girl (2011)

Chalet Girl, a new Brit rom-com from director Phil Traill, centers on Kim (Felicty Jones), a former champion skateboarder stuck in a dead end job trying to support her Dad.

When the opportunity of a catering job in the one of the most exclusive chalets in the Alp comes knocking Kim takes the chance to discover snowboarding, and uses the big end-of-season competition to win some much-needed prize money. But before she can become a champion again, Kim has to dig deep to overcome her fears, and deal with the complicating factor of Jonny (Ed Westwick), her handsome – though spoken for – boss.

Phil Traill creates a reasonably believable world, and even makes up for the atrocious All About Steve. But his choice of bland cinematography and overbearing lighting do nothing for the beautiful scenery, or giddy action of the snowboarding scenes. The snow-blanketed Alps make for a very impressive backdrop, but Traill simply doesn’t have the experience to know how to use this to the films advantage, which in turn makes the endless montages and obvious stunt doubles more obvious and unbearable.

The script, written by Tom Williams, tries incredibly hard to please, stuffing every scene with every sort of gag possible, broadly caricatured characters and tongue-in-cheek dialogue, but it never hits the giddy highs of other teenage comedies, often succumbing to overuses of montage and falling over gags.

The core of the film, though, is Felicity Jones, in her first leading role. She’s a buoyantly likable lead, who mixes sarcasm and dead pan irony to superb avail, to the point where you even forgive her for choosing such a pointless film. It’s a light-hearted and fun performance, and a pleasant surprise to see such a talented British actress cast as a strong and forceful female.

The supporting cast, on the other hand, are hit and miss. Bill Nighy and Tamsin Egerton are forces of nature as Richard and Georgie respectively, each maintaining something of a comic composure while delivering quirky, comical and stand-out performances. Westwick, however, simply doesn’t have the credentials and screen presence needed to turn Jonny into a likeable, honest and interesting character. He’s pure and simple eye candy for Kim.

Chalet Girl is – aside from providing a few laughs – frustratingly dull and nothing more than a showcase for two talented British actresses: Felicity Jones and Tamsin Egerton.

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