Concrete Jungle: Our Review of ‘Skate Kitchen’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 17, 2018
Concrete Jungle: Our Review of ‘Skate Kitchen’

Anything you can do…I can do better…

In the era of the #MeToo movement it’s important to foster positive attitudes on all things from a young age.  Something like Skate Kitchen does that in spades as it takes us to the politics of life inside the skate park which are exactly the same as they are everywhere else on the planet and dealing with them when you’re at that tender age can be some complex but entirely compelling stuff.

We meet Camille; an introverted teenage skateboarder (newcomer Rachelle Vinberg) from Long Island meets and befriends an all-girl, New York City-based skateboarding crew called Skate Kitchen. She falls in with the in-crowd, has a falling-out with her mother, and falls for a mysterious skateboarder guy (Jaden Smith), but a relationship with him proves to be trickier to navigate than a kickflip while she learns some hard but meaningful life lessons navigating the streets of life on her own for the very first time.

With a very immersive style and using mostly inexperienced actor’s there’s something about Skate Kitchen which allows for a very honest from the grass roots up take on young women claiming their own space in territories still often dominated by men and writer/director Crystal Moselle truly steps into her own as a bold and daring filmmaker.

I’ll grant that this really isn’t a film about performances, but the one that you can’t look away from is from writer/director Crystal Moselle.  There’s nothing basic or perfunctory in the world that she is building for us because she’s giving us an unmistakable slice of real life filled with shaky cam shots and handhelds making for an occasionally chaotic but ultimately authentic feeling experience that these young women are going through. The direction is bold and delivers a real New York City style to it all making the city and the backdrop of it all into a genuine and palpable player in everything that is unfolding.  Moselle lets the visual tableau of this world come to her rather than trying to give us something that feels awkward and forced.

It was a smart move using a mostly inexperienced and unknown cast as it added to the validity of the drama that we were getting to witness on the screen.  Rachelle Vinberg as our heroine Camille gives a strong and honest performance as a young woman looking to spread her wings and find friends inside of a community that she feels passionate about.  Jaden Smith is also strong opposite her as a young man who draws her out of her shell but also enables conflict among her new found friends while the balance of the ensemble helps everything move with a certain degree of ease in this story where as much as things may change (for the better and the worse) they’ll also stay rigidly the same.

Skate Kitchen won’t be for everyone to be sure, but it is an honest piece of docu-drama/cinema verite about women trying to find themselves in what has typically been a man’s world.  It’s poignant, it’s relevant and it makes me excited for more from a talent like Crystal Moselle.

 

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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