The Skate Kitchen is the name of a group of female skateboarders first featured in director Moselle’s THE OTHER DAY (a short film created for fashion designer Miu Miu). Moselle first gained attention with her documentary about her siblings
THE WOLF PACK that won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize/Documentary at Sundance 2015.
SKATE KITCHEN, Moselle’s debut full length feature also featuring the skateboarders, begins really well but unfortunately fades away to a sappy Hollywood happy ending despite many bright moments. The opening shots with the camera following the main subject as she skate boards in a skate park gliding as confidently and smoothly set the stage for an excellent film. The high expectations are indeed tough to meet.
This is could be what movie making is all about – taking the audience into a fantasy world (in this case the world of skate boarding) and bringing them to a new exhilarating high. The film best moments are when the skaters are just goofing around on the street, music blaring (a few good tunes courtesy of D.J. Khaled) and they just dancing and goofing around. It shows their world, oblivious to the problems of adults and their outside world, a world of beauty and wonder, an Utopia and state that one wish to be, a pure high and without the use of drug or alcohol.
Camille (Vinberg) is a shy 18-year-old living with her single mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez) in Long Island. After a scary skate accident (shown all bloody and gross at the start of the film), Camille promises her angry and disturbed other that she will hang up her board. But as expected, the urge to skate is too great – so she responds to a social media post about a “girls skate sesh” in New York’s Lower East Side. Finding the camaraderie she’s been missing all her life, Camille falls in with the crowd and falls out with her mother. But when she falls for a mysterious skateboard guy (Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith), the relationship proves to be trickier to navigate than a kickflip.
The kids speak in their own lingo. But when director brings The main lead’s world into reality – romance, an over-wring mother, a boyfriend, drugs and team loyalty, the movie high dissipates slowly.
One wishes there would be more depth in each of the characters in the film. Except for the main character, Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), no one knows any of the family of the other skaters. Even for Camille, nothing is mentioned of her father and her troubled relationship with her mother is sketchy at best.
The film plays like a documentary though it is clearly scripted. Quite a bit of improvisation goes into the making of the film a evident in the many candid scenes. Playing fictionalized versions of themselves are The Skate Kitchen (an all-female skateboarding crew in New York), including co-founder Rachelle Vinberg who has a main role in Moselle’s film.
SKATE KITCHEN when working, is a wonderfully different female film. It makes a feminine statement by showing how much fun it is to be a human being with no penis.