Chalet Girl. Starring Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Tamsin Egerton, Bill Nighy, Brooke Shields, Bill Bailey, Tamsin Egerton and Sophia Bush. Directed by Phil Traill. 97 minutes. Rated PG (Mild sexual references and coarse language).
It was a bit of a shock to realise that this was a British film – having assumed it was American. It does sound like one of those American films about young people, a junior romantic comedy. In fact, it is very much like that in plot and types of characters. However, there is a bit more of British edge and some comic touches about it that puts it a notch or two above its US equivalents.
The film is also absolutely formulaic – or predictable (which sound a little less positive). But, the formula is tried and true: young girl from the wrong side of the tracks (actually, here from a working-class part of London) stuck in a dead-end, fast-food outlet job, but with a skill that is going to come in more than handy when a competition arises (skateboarding here which will translate into snowboarding), dead mother, old codger father (a sympathetic Bill Bailey), a chance for a job at a chalet in the Austrian Alps among the posh and snobbish, a romance with the son and heir, some deception, frustration, temptation to give up, a chance because of a generous gesture, victory, and having it all. Perhaps that spoils it by outlining the plot, but once it starts, that is what you would be expecting anyway.
Because Felicity Jones is a perky, common-sensed and interestingly attractive actress, we are on side right from the start. And, talk about product placement, not just the Tesco bags which do appear, but Austria itself. It looks beautiful, the mountains and snow glittering, the comfortable chalet, the chair lifts and the slopes – plenty of Austria and I wouldn’t be surprised if many in the audience decided that there they must go there and that they should take up skiing or snowboarding.
The leading man is Ed Westwick, one of those heartthrobs in the Robert Pattinson vein. He could actually pass for Robert Pattinson’s brother. His parents are played by Brooke Shields being haughty and mean and Bill Nighy being surprisingly ordinary and nice.
Our heroine makes some bad judgments despite her common sense, gets tangled in a relationship that she should have given far more thought to – but learning one’s lessons and finding true love, which means commitment, is what most romantic comedies are about.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.