FREE-WHEELIN’

Skate Kitchen a unique view into the world of youth skate­board­ing

Regina Leader-Post - - YOU - CHRIS KNIGHT ck­night@post­media.com twit­ter.com/chrisknight­film

As drowsy and aim­less as a late­sum­mer sunny af­ter­noon, Skate Kitchen de­liv­ers a near-per­fect por­trayal of root­less, hor­monal youth.

Camille (Rachelle Vin­berg, one of sev­eral stand­out first-time ac­tors) is skate­board­ing in her lo­cal park in Long Is­land when a mis­step causes a nasty in­jury. Her mom (El­iz­a­beth Ro­driguez) for­bids her from go­ing back, but you know how it is when you have a pas­sion, es­pe­cially in the movies. Be­fore long, Camille has found a new haunt in Man­hat­tan, where she quickly bonds with a group of like-minded young women.

Writer-di­rec­tor Crys­tal

Moselle made a splash in 2015 with the doc­u­men­tary The Wolf­pack, about a group of movieob­sessed broth­ers who grew up barely leav­ing their Man­hat­tan apart­ment.

Skate Kitchen also has doc­u­men­tary be­gin­nings: Moselle met a group of skate­board­ing young women who call them­selves The Skate Kitchen, and in 2016 made a fun short with them called That One Day that you can find on Vimeo.

Not much hap­pens in this beefed-up ver­sion of That One Day, which main­tains the doc vibe. Camille be­friends the multi-ra­cial group that in­cludes Janay (Ardelia Lovelace) and Kurt (Nina Mo­ran, who looks like a young Sa­man­tha Bee), and they get up to some pretty harm­less hi­jinks with their boards. When her mom tracks her down at the new skate­board park, Camille de­cides to move out, crash­ing with Janay and her su­per-cool dad and find­ing a job in a gro­cery store.

This is where she meets Devon, an aspir­ing pho­tog­ra­pher played by Jaden Smith, eas­ily the big­gest name in the film but nicely un­der­play­ing the part.

She can’t fig­ure out whether he merely likes her or, you know, LIKES her, and we watch that con­fu­sion play out in

heart­break­ing real time on her be­spec­ta­cled face.

The film also has a great girl-power vibe, with the boys mostly oc­cu­py­ing the fringes of the frame in the way that fe­male char­ac­ters usu­ally do. If Skate Kitchen fails the re­verse-bechdel test, I’m OK with that. Camille and her new pals do jumps on their boards and shoot the breeze about ev­ery­thing from tam­pons to the Man­dela ef­fect.

The lat­ter is an al­ter­na­te­u­ni­verse con­spir­acy the­ory that won­ders where the Monopoly Man’s mon­o­cle went and works much bet­ter with weed (ap­par­ently).

As a par­ent, I spent a good por­tion of the movie won­der­ing why Camille was so mean to her mom, and wor­ry­ing that chil­dren will copy her trick of tex­ting the old lady old pho­tos to “prove” she’s at the li­brary.

But some heart­felt di­a­logue later in the film pro­vides a par­tial ex­pla­na­tion, while the rest of it can be chalked up to “kids can be like that some­times.”

That ac­tu­ally sums up the plot of Skate Kitchen nicely. Some­times, all you need to spark a last­ing friend­ship are an alu­minum board and four polyurethane wheels.

MON­GREL ME­DIA

Juli­ette Binoche’s sex­ual odyssey in Let the Sun­shine In is thought­ful and so­phis­ti­cated in its can­did ap­proach to life and the search for love in mid­dle age.

Rachelle Vin­berg

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