Studio:IFC Films Year: 2011 Cast: Felicity Jones, Tamsin Egerton, Ed Westwick, Bill Nighy, Bill Bailey, Sophia Bush, Brooke Shields, Ken Duken, Georgia King, Nick Braun, Christian Stevenson, Gregor Bloéb, Tara Dikades Director: Phil Trall Release Date: January 31, 2012 Rating: Not Rated for (language, some adult situations) Run Time: 01h:36m:44s Genre(s): romantic comedy
There isn't much that doesn't play out as one would expect in this bouncy romantic comedy set in a fancy Austrian ski resort. As much as I tend to shy away from these type of films I have to admit that the cast was charming, the locations attractive and though this one doesn't reinvent the genre it is colorful fun. Just don't tell anyone I just said that.
Well worth a rental if you like this sort of thing. And maybe even if you don't. I won't tell if you won't.
Movie Grade: B-
DVD Grade: B-
I'll say at the outset that I'm not what you would call a fan of the rom-com genre, and it is generally something I avoid if at all possible. I've seen plenty of them, it's just that I don't usually lean towards them - I'm more of a monsters/superhero/sci-fi/unholy evil kind of guy. I understand that there's a place for every movie style, but I also understand that I don't have to necessarily like them all.
Then why is it that I found myself fairly enamored with Chalet Girl? Maybe it's because it does what it is supposed to do - as a rom-com - with such a sugary wit and a wonderful cast that it allows the inherent and obligatory plot predictableness to go down that much easier.
The setup for Chalet Girl - directed by Phil Traill - is pretty straightforward, offering up an expository pre-credit sequence that tells us everything we need to know. Kim Matthews (Felicity Jones) was once a 16-year-old skateboarding phenom until she lost her mom in car accident. That tragedy derailed her career, and now a few years later she's working at fast-food burger joint while taking care of her wacky dad Bill (Bill Bailey). The story then jumps along a familiar path, as an opportunity arises to get a four-month gig as the titular character at a posh Austrian ski resort, and after a quirky montage young Kim somehow lands the job. At the chalet she - the lowly employee - meets a wealthy hunk (Ed Westwick) with a fiancee, discovers snowboarding, frolics with free-spirited co-worker (Tamsin Egerton) and has a chance to ultimately change her life via a snowboarding competition.
Traill landed a solid cast (Jones, Bailey, Egerton, Brooke Shields, Bill Nighy) and that does wonders helping to give the story some legs. Felicity Jones - 28 at the time of filming - is one of those rare actresses who is actually believable playing 19 (I would have guessed she was even younger) and she carries the type of screen presence that allows the machinations of the genre's love/hate romance and physical comedy (plate dropping, champagne spilling) to play out in a very watchable way. All of the characters here may all have fallen out of the Stock Character Tree (including the always cool Bill Nighy) but the actors all seem to having such fun with their roles that it one can forgive the lack of personal depth because the performances lend the material a bit more effervescent substance than one might anticipate from a rom-com.
So what does that all mean? Yes, I liked Chalet Girl. Yes, I found Felicity Jones adorable. No, Chalet Girl didn't turn my world upside down. No, Chalet Girl isn't the greatest film ever made. It is what it is though: bright, simple, glossy. It doesn't take itself too seriously, it has a perky pop soundtrack and if that weren't enough it even has a wacky sing-along outtakes credit sequence.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer carries a vivid color palette, but the presence of some busy edge enhancement and aliasing almost negates all that. It's not a wholly awful transfer, but the consistently soft edges are distractingly evident on a large display.
Audio is provided in a serviceable Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that doesn't offer any particularly extraordinary, but is balanced by crisp voice quality and some modest directional movement. The film carries a lot of bubbly pop tunes, and that's really where the audio earns its stripes.
There's quite a bit of supplements here, beginning with a commentary track from director Phil Traill and actress Felicity Jones. The two have a nice rapport, chuckling over production anecdotes, the characters and the cast (including a great story about the meaning of Ken Duken's name) and while there isn't much that is necessarily requisite listening it is a fun listen.
Under the category Interviews there's a lengthy collection of cast/crew comments, featuring Felicity Jones (10m:02s), Ed Westwick (07m:20s), Bill Nighy (05m:30s), Brooke Shields (07m:21s), Bill Nighy and Brooke Shields (03m:45s), Bill Bailey (04m:50s), Ken Duken (08m:38s), Sophia Bush (07m:17s), Phil Traill (07m:44s) and Pippa Cross/Harriet Rees (producers) (10m:59s).
The Viral Videos section includes self-explanatory clips entitled Felicity Snowboarding (02m:35s), Georgia King's First Skiing Lesson (01m:49s), Bill Nighy on Shredding (02m:37s), Behind The Scenes with Nick Braun (01m:40s), Felicity and The Champagne (01m:10s), Sofia Bush (01m:02s), Mountain Chicks' Tips (01m:35s), Bill Bailey (01m:14s) and Going to Set (:27s).
A set of YouTube videos contain Music video - Livingston - "Go" (03m:30s), Berties Night Club (:34s), Cast Script Read Through (01m:50s), Ed Wild Interview (:55s), Filming on Skis (:43s), Joe Geary Interview (02m:05s), Matt Biffa Interview (01m:12s), Christian Stevenson Interview (01m:28s)
Felicity's First Snowboarding Lesson (:40s), Cast Sledge Race (:51s), St. Anton Snow Show (:54s), Phil Traill Interview (:57s) and Nicholas Braun Interview (04m:53s).
A quick Behind The Scenes (09m:06s) segment and the film's theatrical trailer - as well as a few other IFC titles - are also included.