The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle strikes back with first fiction feature film
Camille’s feet are anchored to the board as it cuts through the air. The close camera work and neat editing perfectly capture the sense of strength and determination which characterises the characters of Skate Kitchen. I have never had a keen interest in skate culture but I am hooked. Crystal Moselle’s second feature has all it takes to become a cult classic, from a charismatic cast of newcomers to a dynamite soundtrack, every minute of Skate Kitchen is quotable, imitable and guaranteed to never get old, mainly because of the heartfelt sincerity of the amateur-actor female skate squad and Instagram famous Skate Kitchen.
Skate Kitchen follows Camille, an isolated Long Island teenage skater girl at odds with her mother. After Insta-stalking a female skater band, she gets on a train to get in on the action, which her mum has forbidden. Following the classic coming-of-age narrative, Camille opens herself to new experiences, hones her skills, revels in her sudden internet fame and newfound cool. Despite slight boy-related tensions (Jaden Smith, remarkably low-key and perfectly on point), the squad becomes a haven for Camille and helps her come out of her shell. Each of the girls gets space to shine and their different temperament make for a graceful and harmonious portrait of female youth.
Watching this fierce squad party in crop tops and neon, living their lives to the fullest and not taking shit from anyone reminds me of 2012 Harmony Korine flick Spring Breakers. The Larry Clarke-type influence is felt here too but everywhere Spring Breakers felt non-genuine and unnecessarily provocative, Moselle finds the perfect pitch. Better than a ragged bunch of ex-Disney princesses, the Skate Kitchen are our new friendship goals; they are talented, funny, passionate and 100% relatable. Stoned conversations about tampons and skate gear alike capture what it is to be female in 2018 – because nothing is off-limits for the trail-blazing generation. They don’t have to hide their femininity, nor should they feign fragility in order to be accepted. Watching the film, I felt a little jealous that I didn’t have role models like the girls from Skate Kitchen to watch as a teenager but I am definitely grateful that Moselle and the girls put themselves on the line and shared their genuine life experiences with us (slightly stuck-up) Glasgow Film Theatre film snobs. This will be a transformative watch for a whole new generation. And the numerous audience members carrying shiny new skateboards in and out of the cinema are a testament to how inspiring Skate Kitchen is.