Chalet Girl Review: Fresh Powder

On DVD Release From 3rd October 2011

Despite being pegged as a Cinderella story on a snowboard, leave your preconceptions at the door because Chalet Girl is a far more effective film than UK audiences gave it credit for upon release.

Felicity Jones stars as Kim, a skateboarding prodigy whose mother’s untimely death via car crash put the kibosh on Kim’s dreams. Living with her out-of-work father (Bill Bailey) and working in a fast-food place isn’t cutting it for Kim anymore so she jumps at the chance to be a chalet girl in snowy Austria. Showing Kim the ropes is Georgie (Tamsin Egerton), the posh totty who is inexplicably working as a chalet girl for Bill Nighy and Brooke Shields. Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick and One Tree Hill’s Sophia Bush are their handsome son Johnny and fiancée Chloe.

Kim’s fish-out-of-water story is a lot of fun and but things really kick off when she discovers a snowboarding competition with a big cash prize. With the help of the local boarders, Kim dusts off her skateboarding skills and, naturally, becomes the hot pick to win the money. Of course there’s trouble ahead when Johnny (Westwick) and Kim catch each other’s eyes, throwing Kim’s chances to win into jeopardy.

It’s pretty standard stuff but Felicity Jones is incredibly charismatic, much like a UK-version of Ellen Page; she’s tough, sarcastic without being harsh and can hold her own with actors who have twenty years on her. Egerton is equally appealing, managing to be bitchy and adorable at the same time, making the blossoming friendship with Kim all the more believable. Westwick’s character is the least developed of the cast, playing the well-meaning rich boy who falls for Kim’s rough-trade charms but their romance winds up being predictable, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. It won’t surprise you to learn that they end up together but it feels inauthentic and it would have been a braver choice for Kim to choose to be alone, not unlike Ellen Page’s film Whip It!

The script is solid with some great comedic moments (there’s a joke about pubes in the first five minutes) while Kim’s emotional climax regarding her mother is very touching and real. The let down comes from the snowboarding scenes which are treated as an afterthought, lacking drama and relevance. Despite being uneven in places, Chalet girl is ultimately a lot of fun, full of clichés, of course, but it’s just so enjoyable, you won’t care.

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