Slalom

****

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Noée Abita in Slalom. Charlène Favier: 'I wanted to put the audience inside the feelings of the young girl. She is lost in this place which is weird, beautiful and a nightmare all at the same time'
"Favier dials down the histrionics to concentrate on the manipulative way the coach plays around with the girl’s fragile emotions, reducing her to a despairing wreck." | Photo: UniFrance

Dark and disturbing undercurrents are never far from the surface in Charlène Favier’s assured debut feature set agains the backdrop of the world of highly competitive skiing.

The bright blue skies and glistening snowscapes of Val d’Isère only serve to pinpoint the traumas facing 15-year-old Lyz (played by newcomer Noée Abita) whose sporting ambitions lead her to an elite Alpine instruction school. There she’s confined far from friends and family to concentrate on her skills.

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It’s a febrile and claustrophobic atmosphere in which the young girl falls under the tutelage of a chilling Jérémie Renier as the perpetually sardonic coach who takes advantage of the girl’s impressionable psyche and his position of power and influence over her.

Favier dials down the histrionics to concentrate on the manipulative way the coach plays around with the girl’s fragile emotions, reducing her to a despairing wreck.

Although set in the arena of sport Favier’s main concerns revolve around the abuse of power in any domain whether it be business or education or whatever which gives the film its universal appeal.

The performances of Abita and Renier are in perfect harmony with their characters’ evolution - a chilling cat and mouse exercise that makes fascinating yet uncomfortable viewing. Favier demonstrates her skills as a fearless director with vision who knows how to confront a difficult subject with a forensic rigour.

Reviewed on: 11 Feb 2021
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Coming-of-age tale about a young skier who is drawn into an abusive relationship.

Director: Charlène Favier

Writer: Charlène Favier

Starring: Noée Abita, Axel Auriant, Muriel Combeau, Marie Denarnaud, François Godart, Catherine Marchal, Jérémie Renier, Maïra Schmitt

Year: 2020

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: France, Belgium


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