Blu-ray Review: CHALET GIRL Is A Teeny, Icey Rom-Com, That Isn't Quite All Downhill

British teen rom-com jumps off the ski slopes and onto blu-ray this week. It's cliched and predictable, but that won't be a bad thing for everyone...

The pitch: Bridget Jones on ice meets Flashdance. Chalet Girl not your usual British rom-com then? Well, not exactly, because not everyone's entirely flawed (it seems the Curtisian generation defines the romantic as foolish, but in a good way), but it still follows the well-trodden path in its own way. There are still a raft of cliches involved, and if you find anything surprising in the plot, you've got a better eye than me, but for something so unashamedly familiar, it's not a terribly off-putting film. The plot is reasonably simple: the chalet girl in question is Kim (Felicity Jones), who is forced to look for extra income when her dad's (comedian Bill Bailey) debts mount, and finds the opportunity as a chalet girl working in the service of Richard (Bill Nighy), his wife Caroline (Brooke Shields), and their sons Nigel (Nicholas Braun) and Jonny (Ed Westwick). In a bit of alone time, Kim decides to take to the slopes and try a bit of snow boarding, catching the eye of local slope veteran Mikki (Ken Duken) who takes her under his wing to turn her natural gift (she was a skateboarding champ before a car crash that killed her mum made her give it all up) into real talent. And in the grand manner of such things, she then enters a competition to win $25,000 that the veterans around her would usually easily walk away with having wiped the floor with her, given her lack of real on-piste experience and what-not. But that wouldn't be very romantic, now would it? Speaking of romance, there's also a class-divide, Romeo and Juliet style tale of forbidden love between Kim and Jonny, who has a girlfriend (typically, another modern rom-com that doesnt care for morals as long as the other girl/boy is a vapid, nasty piece of work). Predictably they fall head over snow boots with one another, there's conflict, there's resolution and there's some saccharine laced moments along the way. I was very much aware watching Chalet Girl that it wasn't for me. Not just in terms of personal taste though, because I'm an unashamed rom-com fan (though I am definitely a traditionalist) - it's just that the film is so obviously aimed at young women, from teens up, and watching from outside of that group the demographic focus appears very pronounced. And I am not a young woman. That's not to say it is a terrible film: in fact for teenage girls it does a good job, offering enough heart and a reasonable cast of British talent to rise what should probably have been a TV-based story onto the big screen. It is certainly a step-up in quality from director Phil Traill's last film: All About Steve, which was an abomination and regrettable for all involved, but it rarely rises above middling ground for all of its attempts at profound sentimentalism. It's not really one to get film fans' hearts pumping, but there will certainly be a Just 17 style ready made audience, buoyed no doubt by a pretty good performance in the lead by Felicity Jones, and a not terrible chemistry between the heroine and her object of desire Ed Westwick. I personally wouldn't buy it, but it's harmless enough and never demands anything from the audience, almost treading the same territory as Bridget Jones, but without that film's self-awareness or contextual appropriateness that made her an enduring, universal character.

Quality

I'd love it to be perfect, so I could make some witty comment about the transfer being as pure as the driven snow, but it's not. It isn't all that poor either, and the snowy mountain scenes in particular look impressive, which must be commended as it must surely have been easy to lose a hell of a lot of detail in white-out. Elsewhere colours are strong and vibrant, despite the enduringly white background in exterior scenes, and textures, black levels and detail are all as strong as one might expect from a film that doesn't immediately shout its suitability for high-definition. The sound is roughly at the same level - its all pitch perfectly designed - in terms of the music choices anyway - and the pop heavy soundtrack is as clear as glacial ice.

Extras

Not much at all - one commentary that isn't at all great or insightful, plus footage from the Premiere (the worst of all promo material, since who the hell cares?) and the film's initial trailer. Hardly ground-breaking stuff. Audio Commentary with Phil Traill and Felicity Jones The Premiere Trailer Chalet Girl is out on Blu-ray and DVD now.
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