Chalet Girl (2011)
August 9, 2011 Leave a comment
Robbed of both her mother and skateboarding prowess in a tragic car accident, Kim Matthews (Felicity Jones) is watching life pass her by from behind the counter of some nameless burger bar, winning bread – and beans – for her apparently incapable father (Bill Bailey). Offered the chance to work as a chalet girl in the Austrian Alps for twice the money – a role that basically requires that she house-sit and occasionally wait on the resident billionaires – Kim is thrown into a world of pretence, caviare and leisurely helicopter rides as she endeavours to complete the four month contract. With her eye set firmly on engaged client Jonny (Ed Westwick), and her ex-skateboarding skills putting her in good stead for winning the local snowboarding championship, the stage is set for the usual succession of gags and pratfalls in anticipation of our requisite happy ever after.
Phill Triall really knows how to sabotage his own movies. Now with two films under his belt, the director hasn’t a single passable piece of marketing to show for either of them. Famously derided for his utterly abysmal directorial début, the has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed All About Steve for which Sandra Bullock personally collected her Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress, shoddy poster-work is thankfully all Chalet Girl has in common with its disastrous forebear.
For while Chalet Girl may be a generic slice of predictability, lining up a series of increasingly tired stereotypes for each of their requisite pratfalls and hijinx, it is a relatively harmless slice of genre romance which thankfully chooses charm over quirk in its battle for audience investment. The film’s success is largely thanks to the endlessly compelling efforts of its leading lady, Cemetery Junction’s delightful Felicity Jones, who single handedly elevates proceedings beyond the adequacy of such other recent romantic failures as Just Go With It and The Dilemma.
Boasting a refreshingly restrained performance from Bill Nighy, and a slew of familiar faces from such similar fare as St. Trinians and Wild Child (Georgia King is quite simply brilliant), Chalet Girl is a decidedly mixed bag that is mercifully more than the sum of its parts. Jones is an absolute revelation, whose charm offensive somehow offsets the grim realisation that we are simply watching the same succession of plot devices unfold on cue, only in a slightly novel setting (untapped since 2010′s practically prehistoric Hot Tub Time Machine). Far more relatable than Carrie Bradshaw or an obsessive Sandra Bullock, Jones uses a witty – but by no means laugh out loud – script to her advantage as she goes about bedding a Gossip Guy, rediscovering her skate/snowboarding talent and making peace with her mother’s memory.
While you may resist at first, Chalet Girl will invariably have you’re cockles warmed and spirits heightened by the film’s happily ever after. A functionable slice of romantic comedy, Chalet Girl is a far better movie that its promotional campaign might imply. Charming, spirited and witty, by Phill Triall’s standards this is a unmitigated success.