Chalet Girl (review)

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Behold! It’s a romantic comedy about a young woman who’s not looking for a boyfriend! A rom-com about a human female whose life is not consumed by the terror that she will be Alone Forever! A rom-com about a person of the not-male persuasion who has ambitions beyond the romantic! Though she is willing to indulge in the comedic! Kim (Felicity Jones: The Tempest) has a wonderfully biting ironic sense of humor, and she’s not afraid in the least to deploy it against her betters, the posh family who employs her as a “chalet girl,” a general household servant in their luxurious Alpine escape. Hell, even the other chalet girl, Georgie (Tamsin Egerton: The Mists of Avalon), is six steps up the social ladder from poor, unposh Kim: chalet jobs usually go to upper-class bimbos, who at least know which glass the champagne goes in, and who take the job for the accompanying free lift pass and for the possibility of snagging an even richer husband. But Kim only lucked into the job because of dumb circumstance, and is there only to work: she’s the sole support for herself and her sad dad (Bill Bailey: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang) back in London, who’s been too depressed to do much of anything since his wife, Kim’s mom, died. A whole lotta sly class-clash comedy tumbles through the snow while Kim learns her way around this aristocratic new world: her collisions with Georgie (who turns out not to be such an idiot after all) solidify into unexpected friendship, even if those with arch American matriarch Caroline (Brooke Shields: Pretty Baby) do not… especially after romance accidentally rears its head via Caroline’s veddy English son, Jonny (Ed Westwick: Breaking and Entering), who is careening toward marriage with a far more appropriate young lady. There’s a lot of plot crammed into a quick 90 minutes — Kim, a former champion skateboarder, gets caught up in preparing for a snowboarding competition, once she learns how to stay up on the snowboard; plus there are amusing asides with Jonny’s financier father, Richard (Bill Nighy: Rango), and his monied asshole friends — but it all works as breezily as can be, thanks to a refreshingly light touch by director Phil Traill (very refreshing, considering that his last film was the appalling All About Steve), and the entire cast, who — unlike the inhabitants of most of what passes for romantic comedy at the movies — seem like real people you’d actually like to spend time with.

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