VOD film review: Chalet Girl
James R | On 03, May 2015
Director: Phil Traill
Cast: Felicity Jones, Tamsin Egerton, Bill Nighy, Bill Bailey
Watch Chalet Girl online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Working class girl goes up the Alps to meet her dream man. It sounds cheesy but ignore the pink, sparkly poster for a minute: Chalet Girl is genuinely great. It’s not about a hapless girl chasing after some bloke. It’s about a young woman leaving home and finding her own feet. On a snowboard. Think Bridget Jones on ice. Brrridget Jones, if you will.
We first meet Kim (Jones) in a dead-end fast food joint, surrounded by stripy shirts and discounted onion rings. A former skateboarding prodigy, she’s trying to support her cash-strapped dad (Bailey). Then, after impressing a posh lady with her working class sass, she gets a job in Switzerland, the land of rich people and housekeeping.
Hoping to earn enough to pay the overdue rent, she adopts the life of a chalet girl, cleaning up after a wonky-specced Bill Nighy, upper-class Jonny (Westwick) and snooty workmate Georgie (Egerton). It’s all par for the course, as Kim’s fish-out-of-water-and-up-a-ski-lift tries to fit in, but Tom Williams’ script is smart: a boyfriend is never Kim’s end goal.
Instead, Chalet Girl has a snowboarding competition to think of, and we spend as much time on the slopes as we do swooning by log fires with Mr Monopoly. Like Whip It, this is closer to a sports movie than a straight rom-com, which makes it an impressively rounded affair. Poor Bridget wouldn’t know a 50-50 grind from a 180 frontflip, but our Kim isn’t fazed – even after sliding down the snow on her backside several times.
Leading the likeable cast, Felicity Jones is clearly the star of the show. Her turn in 2011 followed stand-out roles in Cemetery Junction and The Tempest, giving a glimpse of the star quality that the world has, by now, noticed – after The Theory of Everything, she’s about to lead Star Wars: Rogue One. Balancing poignant flashbacks with the film’s feel-good formula, Jones is a natural screen presence. She does quips, pratfalls and emotion without breaking a sweat.
Most importantly, the laughs keep coming – even Tamsin Egerton manages to make funnies in a role that could have been Mean Girls-lite. And, for those who don’t like shots of pretty mountains, there’s always Bill Bailey running around the kitchen with an aubergine. What more could you want?
Chalet Girl is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.