- James Mottram
- 24 September 2018
Stirringly feminist but rather slight tale of female skateboarders from The Wolfpack's Crystal Moselle
Crystal Moselle returns with her first narrative feature, Skate Kitchen, a film that sets out to do for Generation Z what Larry Clark's abrasive but influential Kids did for those growing up in the 90s. Moselle's breakthrough The Wolfpack was a 2015 documentary about a group of film-obsessed siblings who had spent their childhoods shut in at home, and she applies a similar observational style here in this tale of a posse of female skateboarders that roam the parks of New York's Lower East Side.
The Skate Kitchen are a real crew, although Moselle takes fictional liberties. Founding member Rachelle Vinberg plays Camille, an 18-year-old Long Islander whose mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez) wants her daughter to stop skating. Naturally, Camille rebels, hooking up with some fellow skaters over Instagram. Joining Janay (Ardelia Lovelace) and Kurt (Nina Moran), Camille swiftly becomes part of the gang. When her mother finds out, there's hell to pay.
Co-written by Moselle with Aslihan Unaldi and Jen Silverman, the narrative is hardly complex, as the girls skate, smoke weed and banter. There's a flirtation between Camille and Devon (Jaden Smith), a wannabe photographer; given Devon's history with Janay, it means there are consequences, but Moselle isn't interested in dramatic showdowns. Realism is her weapon, and her integration of the non-professional cast alongside pro actors like Smith (son of Will) is seamless.
The film is nowhere near as shocking as Kids (and doesn't want to be), with Moselle's scenes of casual sex and drug-taking almost innocent by comparison. It's nothing radical – and will doubtless be too slight for some – but, as a story of girls doing their own thing in an otherwise male environment, it carries a powerful feminist message.
General release from Fri 28 Sep.