Skate Kitchen

Crystal Moselle’s skateboarding drama featuring real-life skaters from New York is ostensibly a hangout movie, but also quietly revolutionary in how it naturalistically depicts female friendship

Film Review by Iana Murray | 06 Sep 2018
Film title: Skate Kitchen
Director: Crystal Moselle
Starring: Rachelle Vinberg, Jaden Smith, Elizabeth Rodriguez
Release date: 28 Sep
Certificate: 15

When we meet timorous skateboarder Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), she suffers an injury at the skatepark so horrific, it would make anyone with a vagina squirm and cringe. Blood trickles down her legs, and she limps her way back to her Long Island home. Naturally, her overbearing mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez) forbids her from skating again. But it’s impossible for Camille to stay away for long, as she sneaks off to Manhattan, finding her pack in an insta-famous collective of female skaters.

Skate Kitchen is a work of fiction, but it feels more like a doc-feature hybrid – the film stars the real skate crew that lends its name, and the events that unfold are inspired by their own experiences. It seems like the obvious course of action for director Crystal Moselle, whose debut The Wolfpack followed another eclectic group of New York natives.

This unique approach to storytelling, along with a cast of first-time actors, gives a sense of authenticity that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nothing feels scripted, but the freewheeling improvisation from its non-professional cast isn’t hollow either. The badass group’s offscreen camaraderie is rendered lovingly, so inviting and infectious that you may be tempted to shred on a board too. Skate Kitchen is a slice of life movie in its purest form – it brims with vitality and vibrancy.

Though ostensibly a simple hangout movie, Skate Kitchen is quietly revolutionary for how it approaches womanhood. The girls talk about tampons and sexuality with the frankness that one would chit-chat about the weather. Femininity is embraced in all forms, but zero fanfare is made about it. Similarly, the low-key observations of subtle sexism in skateboarding amount to one woman’s story out of many who face enmity in a male-dominated world. Skateboarding in cinema is likewise dominated by male narratives, from Kids to Jonah Hill’s upcoming debut Mid90sSkate Kitchen boldly and bravely fights back.

Skate Kitchen has its Scottish premiere 15 Sep, GFT, as part of Glasgow Youth Film Festival. Crystal Moselle and some of the film's cast will be in attendance for a Q&A

Released by Modern Film