Crystal Moselle’s street-level drama Skate Kitchen has a strong enough visual storytelling style that it could almost have been done without any dialogue, but then we’d miss out on the pleasure of spending time with the characters. Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) is an 18-year-old Long Island tomboy whose mother orders her to give up skateboarding and start acting like (what her mother considers to be) a proper woman. After discovering them on Instagram, Camille soon joins the all-girl Skate Kitchen crew, including lesbian Kurt (Nina Moran) and willowy Janay (Ardelia Lovelace).
Ever notice how films by older men take a dim view of social media, yet films by and about younger women see it as a net positive? Funny, that.
There are necessarily character arcs to provide the film with structure, especially when Camille’s close friendship with Janay is threatened by Camille getting close to Janay’s ex-boyfriend Devon (Jaden Smith, who never feels like he’s slumming). But Skate Kitchen is a hangout film first and foremost, and the camaraderie of the real-life besties is endlessly joyful. Some of the most touching moments are reaction shots of very young girls who just happened to be passing by during filming, watching the Skate Kitchen crew in wide-eyed wonder. You can see their worlds expanding in real time.
Opens Friday at the Embarcadero Center Cinema and the AMC Dine-In Kabuki.