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by Phil Traill
Felicity Jones’ undoubted charisma counts for little. The successful comic sketches performed by Bernhardt, the keeper of the chalet played by Austrian Gregor Bloéb, count for little: Phil Traill’s Chalet Girl – a co-production between Great Britain, Germany and Austria – is, unfortunately, a weak, uninspiring comedy with predictable and sometimes forced twists.
On the mountains of Austria
Accepting a seasonal job and seeing the own life take unexpected twists. A life made, until recently, of sacrifices and renunciations, but one from which she is finally about to get her comeback. This is the story of young Kim (played by the now famous Felicity Jones), once a successful skater, but who, after the death of her mother in a car accident, abandoned her sporting career in order to devote herself entirely to her father. And it is precisely Kim the protagonist of the feature film Chalet Girl, made in 2011 by British director Phil Traill and the result of a co-production between Great Britain, Germany and Austria. A work, this one, which through a mise-en-scene with clear references to American cinema, mainly stages a girl’s acknowledgement of her desires and passions. All in a (not too) long journey towards a new and more mature self-consciousness.
Could a film like Chalet Girl be considered, then, as a kind of coming-of-age? Technically, yes. Because, in fact, from the moment we see the young protagonist travel to a luxury chalet in the Austrian mountains, in order to work as a waitress for a wealthy English family, she will slowly begin to understand what she really wants from life, thanks also to the discovery of a new passion – that for snowboarding – and thanks to a new, exciting challenge to overcome.
As already mentioned, however, the pattern to which director Phil Traill refers is precisely American teen comedies, in which a happy ending is assured from the outset, even at the expense of any relative forcing from the point of view of the script itself. This has been the case with countless films, especially since the beginning of the 2000s, and so it is also with this Chalet Girl, where from the very first minutes we know exactly which way events will turn. Sad but true.
Despite, then, an interesting characterisation of young Kim – especially in terms of her clever mind – we care little for her initial quarrels with her colleague Georgie (Tamsin Egerton), just as we care little for her infatuation with handsome Johnny (Ed Westwick).
If there is, on the contrary, an issue that really interests us, it is precisely the protagonist’s new passion, skateboarding. And yet, even in this case, everything is banalised and reduced to nothing by a script in which, apparently, only four months of occasional exercises would be enough to become a world champion. So Felicity Jones’ undoubted charisma counts for little. The successful comic sketches performed by Bernhardt, the keeper of the chalet played by Austrian Gregor Bloéb (brother of the better-known Tobias Moretti), count for little: Phil Traill’s Chalet Girl is, unfortunately, a weak, uninspiring comedy with predictable and sometimes even forced twists. And which, above all, seems to have no other destiny than to be soon forgotten, as it is too similar to hundreds of films of its kind. Even though it has occasionally made a few spectators mildly laugh.
Original title: Chalet Girl
Directed by: Phil Traill
Country/year: UK, Germany, Austria / 2011
Running time: 97’
Genre: comedy, romance, coming-of-age
Cast: Felicity Jones, Bill Bailey, Rebecca Lacey, Chandra Ruegg, Tom Goodman-Hill, Jo Martin, Tamsin Egerton, Georgia King, Mario Netzer, Gregor Bloéb, Ed Westwick, Bill Nighy, Brooke Shields, Sophia Bush, Nicholas Braun, Tara Dakides, Nora Rieser, Sandra von Ruffin, Thomas Goersch, Sasha Manuel Hodak, Julia Jentsch
Screenplay: Tom Williams
Cinematography: Ed Wild
Produced by: UK Film Council, Aegis Film Fund, Hindsight Media, Neue Bioskop Film, Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion GmbH