DIRECTED BY: Phil Traill
WRITTEN BY: Tom Williams
STARRING: Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Bill Nighy, Bill Bailey
RATING: 2.5 stars
Chalet Girl is not your typical teenage romantic comedy. For one thing, it's British, not American. It also has a strong focus on sport, namely snowboarding, and a tells the story of a regular teenage girl with a regular life. This is a refreshing change to the Hollywood teenage romantic comedies about snobby, rich high school girls from the Upper East Side or Orange County. All of this bodes well for the film because it gives audiences a slightly different romantic comedy. Despite some originality though, the film still seems to follow a predictable, though fun, plot.
Kim Matthews (Felicity Jones) used to be a champion skateboarder until a car accident killed her mum and she became stuck in a dead-end job and caring for her unemployed father (Bill Bailey) who never quite got over his wife's death. Through an agency, Kim lands a four-month long contract working as a housekeeper/caterer at a private chalet in the Austrian Alps for the very rich and very handsome (and very taken) Johnny (Ed Westwick) and his family. As with every romantic comedy, Kim and Johnny try to deny their feelings for one another. Meanwhile, Kim also learns how to snowboard and decides to enter a competition with big prize money, if only she can get over the phobia that has plagued her since her mother's death.
Writer Tom Williams has made his feature film screenplay debut with Chalet Girl and, aside from the lame ending, it's not a bad effort, especially with the snowboarding inclusion. In fact, director Phil Traill seems to have taken a lot of time filming these snowboarding scenes and such detail is great to see in a romantic comedy.
Jones gives a solid performance as Kim. She's suitably awkward and shy, which makes her very endearing, and she has enough sweetness and courage that you want everything to work out for her. Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick is so charming, he could have chemistry with a rubbish bin. Together, they make a cute pair for a romantic comedy and I'm sure groups of giggling teenage girls will enjoy the film on the basis of their chemistry alone.
Chalet Girl is not for everyone. I can't say it's a great film, because it's not. But it does deliver exactly what it promises audiences in its trailer. A male friend of mine even liked it just for the snowboarding, so perhaps it will reach a wider audience than one might anticipate. I must remember to add the Austrian Alps to my list of “places to see” too. Magnificent scenery!