Skate Kitchen is the feature-length debut of documentary director Crystalle Moselle. The story follows a lonely suburban girl named Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) who befriends a group of female skateboarders in New York. I didn’t know much about this movie going in outside of the fact that Jaden Smith is in it, which made me skeptical. After seeing the movie however, I can say that it is not a bad movie, but at the same time, it’s not one to rush out to either.
The technical aspects of Skate Kitchen are what impressed me the most about it. Moselle comes from a documentary background and gives the skating scenes a raw and gritty feel. She films the movie with a handheld style to make the audience feel as if they are with Camille and her friends. Unfortunately, I did have some problems with the editing. There are scenes that progress unnaturally when moments from the same scene are intercut and I’d rather let the scenes progress organically.
The performances in Skate Kitchen are not bad but they are not amazing either. Each of the main characters have their own unique personality traits, but the movie never elevates them beyond those traits and the actors portraying these characters are not strong enough to make me believe in them either. The strongest points for these main actors are when they are together. Jaden Smith is not bad, but his character doesn’t become relevant until later in the movie. Elizabeth Rodriguez arguably gives the best performance as Camille’s mother but she is barely in the movie.
The screenplay of Skate Kitchen is not much better. It takes this laidback storytelling approach of not simply showing the girls perform their daily routines but that becomes tiresome after a while since there is no actual narrative to latch onto. In fact, I’m wondering if I would care more about this movie if I was into skateboarding. Certain plot points such as Camille’s tumultuous relationship with her mother exist in the movie, but they barely cover its 100 minute runtime.
Verdict: 3 out of 5
Skate Kitchen is not a bad movie but it is not one that I truly cared about. Outside of the cinematography and direction, nothing about it was extraordinary or worthwhile. Regardless, this movie also could’ve not been my taste or I possibly need to see it again in order to appreciate it.