VOD film review: Skate Kitchen
Ivan Radford | On 21, Jan 2019
Director: Crystal Moselle
Cast: Rachelle Vinberg, Jaden Smith, Ajani Russell, Kabrina Adams, Emmanuel Barco, Alexander Cooper
Watch Skate Kitchen online in the UK: All 4 / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Every now and then, a piece of independent film comes out of nowhere that simply blows you away. Skate Kitchen is one of them.
Documentarian Crystal Moselle, who previously directed the fascinating The Wolfpack, has a knack for embedding herself in a closed off group and earning their trust, mostly by treating them with respect. That gift is present and correct with her latest, which see her turns her hand to narrative fiction. Not that you’d know it: it’s testament to just how well written and authentic this drama is that you could swear you were watching non-fiction.
Skate Kitchen follows a group of New York skateboarders, who become the friends of Long Islander Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), after an injury leaves her banned from skateboarding by her mother. And so she does the logical thing and sneaks out of the house and into the city to get her wheels on without being found out.
Moselle spent a year getting to know the non-professional performers we see on screen, and it shows: working with them to craft roles that match each person, the result is a script that crackles with genuine dialogue (frankly covering everything from periods to parents). It’s brought to life by an ensemble that rings with sincere friendship, from Vinberg’s heartfelt, courageous lead to Jaden Smith’s surprising, understated romantic interest.
Together, they paint a vivid, moving, visceral portrait of youth that grabs you by the heart and whisks you down the street. And what streets they are. Moselle and her DoP mix stunning handhelds and on-board tracking shots to weave together gob-smacking tricks in the middle of the busy metropolis. The screen hops, skips and jumps with the effort required to pull them off, then glides away smoothly with the excitement of newly found freedom.
This is a gorgeous, fresh and honest piece of cinema that poetically captures the thrill and pain of growing up, and sincerely celebrates the importance of support and self-discovery, as we watch a group of women making their own mark in a traditionally male culture. A coming-of-age movie that has timeless written all over it, this slice of cinema is, in their words, valid.
Skate Kitchen is available on All 4 until 1st December 2021.