Stars: Rachelle Vinberg, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Jaden Smith
Director Moselle’s 2015 debut picture ‘The Wolfpack’ was a fascinating documentary about a band of siblings who had been locked in a Manhattan apartment recreating their favourite movies. This, her fictional debut, deals with another, more mobile, close knit band of NYC dwellers: a female skate crew. Newcomer Vinberg is Camille a loner skater in the Long Island suburbs who lives with her single mother (‘Orange is the New Black’s’ Rodriguez). After Camille falls off her board causing a bloody injury to her groin, her mother forbids her to skate. Then, spotting the titular all-female group of Manhattan-based skaters on social media, Camilla tracks them down at one of their Lower East Side meeting places. Impressed by her sweet moves, the band, who include warm welcoming Janay (Lovelace) and fearless charismatic lesbian Kurt (Moran), invite her into their ranks. After her home situation becomes untenable Camille is invited by Janay’s endlessly laid-back dad to come and live with them. Their close knit group’s unity is threatened when Camille falls for street photographer Devon, played by the jarringly recognisable Jaden Smith whose character skirts the line between laidback cool and smug dullard. While the over-protective mum plot is way-overfamiliar, and Moselle inserts maybe too many self-consciously ‘transcendent’ moments when the crew skate along sun-dappled/twilit streets to a cool hip-hop and indie soundtrack, the film is elevated via the naturalistic self-assured performances – the leads aren’t professional actors but a real skate crew the director spotted riding the train one night. Scenes where the group - who are refreshingly unconcerned with race or sex preferences - just shoot the breeze, are a delight.