The director of The Wolfpack breaks into narrative features with this title out from Magnolia.
The camera begins close-up on the skater in the park, an androgynous looking figure performing tricks on a board. It’s when a failed attempt results in a bloody fall that male voices are heard asking if the injured person is on her period. This opening plunks the viewer down into the lonely world of a girl skater.
Skate Kitchen, the 2018 indie drama from Crystal Moselle (who directed documentary The Wolfpack), shows 18-year-old Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) break out from her seemingly isolated home in Long Island to the chaotic yet welcoming environment she finds in an NYC skatepark with a group of skater girls. Her new friends, a crew called Skate Kitchen whose videos she follows on Instagram, support Camille’s talent and love for skating.
Janay (Ardelia Lovelace) and Camille become close friends, until things fall apart because of a guy, Devon (Jaden Smith, The Karate Kid). Camille is naive and curious, wanting to flit between the comfort she feels among the girls and the drive she feels when with Devon’s crew. The division between the two groups is stark; the fun Camille has among the other girls, getting to know more about them and herself, contrasts sharply with the “cool girl” act she has to put on with the guys and the lite misogyny that surrounds those interactions.
I may have rolled my eyes at Camille’s missteps, but her choices ring true to such a character with limited life experience and an inquisitive nature. Moselle’s depiction of this young skater culture is convincing enough for this critic to feel the generation gap, but the director’s treatment of themes like friendship among women and coming into one’s identity transcends age. For Camille, building real friendships among the Skate Kitchen girls, realizing that other young women her age are as obsessed with skating as she is, is like finding her people. These friends become her chosen family.
Magnolia Home Entertainment releases Skate Kitchen on Blu-ray this week. The package includes special features such as:
- behind-the-scenes footage from two stunt shoots
- deleted scenes
- photo gallery
- trailers for other Magnolia titles