The first feature film from Crystal Moselle, after her 2015 truth-really-is-stranger-than-fiction documentary The Wolfpack, is the kind of film that is both about everything and nothing. It’s about the big stuff – maternal, fraternal, platonic, romantic relationships along with self-image and what makes us tick – and the small stuff that occurs along the way.
The film opens with newly 18 year old Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) suffering an injury during a session on her skateboard. Worried that worse injuries could occur next time, her mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez) bans her from skating. It doesn’t last long. Camille can’t stand not skating, especially not since she discovered and joined The Skate Kitchen – a group of young women who love to skate as much as she does. When her mother catches her out vicious arguments quickly form causing Camille to move from the suburbs and join her new friends in New York City. She’s soon submerged in her newly discovered subculture, making true friendships and discovering herself along the way.
The film follows some familiar coming-of-age beats – there’s the initiation period, the honeymoon period and things getting hitting the deck courtesy of a possible romantic partner – but that doesn’t stop the film being quietly revolutionary in its own way due to how raw and real at whole lot of it feels. From the larger sequences (parties and at the skate park) to the smaller hangouts and just skating around the city these sense of finding your tribe remains omnipresent. There’s a sense of self-discovery in every conversation Camille has and everything she does; each step leading her to the person she’s meant to be.
That’s not to say the dialogue is heavy and loaded – far from it! Instead the performances and the accompanying dialogue seem naturalistic and raw. It frequently feels like we’re sitting in on their hangouts, listening – to them speak about parents, boys and periods to name but a few topics – in a truthful, self-deprecating and slightly world-weary way that feels real. Few films have such developed female friendships or devote this much time to looking at their dynamics. And that’s something that truly needs celebrating.
Skate Kitchen played at Sundance Film Festival