All Downhill: Teen Romance on the Slopes in Chalet Girl


Chalet Girl
Directed by Phil Traill
Opens October 14
IFC Center
 Hot Dog… The Movie and its disreputable ski-comedy ilk might have been a low point in cinema history, but at least their unbridled crassness had energy; Chalet Girl embraces similar ‘80s tropes for a lethargic you-go-girl fairy tale. When English tomboy Kim (Felicity Jones) takes a job working at a wealthy family’s Austrian Alps getaway, so she can support her single dad, she’s mocked by her bitchy blonde colleague (Tamsin Egerton) and discovers that her once-celebrated skateboarding skills translate quite nicely to snowboarding. Phil Traill’s film introduces class divisions and culture-clash tensions only to immediately pull its punches, having Kim overcome one adversity after another with almost supernatural ease. Romance between working-class Kim and princely employer Jonny (Ed Westwick) is—despite his engagement to Chloe (Sophia Bush) and the disapproval of his mother (Brooke Shields)—as predictable as the many training-to-triumph montages and the climactic snowboarding competition, all of it formulaic pap treated with enervating earnestness. Jones is a passably plucky heroine, but from Kim’s efforts to overcome the trauma of her mom’s death to her accidentally falling on top of Jonny on the slopes, Chalet Girl is just a compendium of genre clichés—minus the usual racism and t&a.
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Stuart Ian Burns
Stuart Ian Burns

I think you've missed the point.

The great thing about Chalet Girl is that it doesn't follow the easy cliches of similar films. It doesn't make her chalet colleague a bitch on legs who makes her life a living hell or a fairly typical adversary. It doesn't make the family she works for Dickensian in their attitude, just mildly horrible. Plus it has a seem of cynicism running through it which fights against the assumptions of hiw romance is supposed to be, helped by a storming performance from Felicity Jones. It is what it is, but at least it does it with some appreciation for the limits of the genre its within and does its best to work against them.


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