Review: 'Skate Kitchen', Jaden Smith Experiences Personal Growth In Skateboarding Culture

Skate Kitchen tells the story of Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), a lonely girl living in the suburbs of New York City with her single mother. Camille loves skate boarding and often finds herself as the only girl at the neighborhood skatepark. When Camille has an unfortunate accident, her mother makes her promise to give up skateboarding. Even though Camille reluctantly makes the promise, she is quick to go behind her mother’s back and continuing pursuing her passions. Camille’s whole world seems to revolve around skateboarding. If she is not at the skatepark, she is watching videos of skateboarding on Instagram or dreaming she was on her board grinding rails. Skateboarding is where Camille feels happiest, but there is still something holding her back from finding true bliss. One day Camille stumbles upon an Instagram post for a girl’s skate session in New York City and she quickly maps out the path, collects her last few dollars, and heads out.

Camille quickly befriends a group of female skaters who go by Skate Kitchen. Kurt (Nina Moran) recognizes Camille from her own Instagram skating posts and immediately wants her to hop on a board and show her talents. As the girls skate across the streets of New York city, Ruby (Kabrina Adams) follows suit with a camera glued in her hands documenting all the tricks, stunts, and good times that they have together. As the days pass, Camille finds herself going to New York city after her mom leaves for work and spending all her free time with ladies of Skate Kitchen. The group is free spirited, a stark contrast to the sheltered life and upbringing that Camille has experienced. They spend their afternoons carelessly skating around the city, stopping at different parks, recklessly skating through intersections, smoking marijuana, and discussing life and the world around them. Camille slowly begins to open up to her new friends, but unfortunately this comes at a cost as she keeps lying to her mother about where she is spending her days. This seems like a small price to pay as Camille has finally found her place and her people.

At the heart of Skate Kitchen is a story of personal growth and self-discovery. Writer/director Crystal Moselle and writers Aslihan Unaldi and Jen Silverman introduce the audience to the underground skating subculture of New York City’s skate scene. We see how this group of young women are managing to make their mark in a typical male dominated sport. Throughout Skate Kitchen we see how Camille and her friends interact with one of the main groups of male skaters in the area – usually tension filled affairs stemming from a lack of mutual respect and sense of entitlement over turf. As times passes Camille manages to befriend Devon (Jaden Smith) who brings her into his group of male skaters and they eventually embrace her and her talents. Camille just wants to skate and forget about all of the drama between these groups of skaters, but that may not be as easy as she had hoped. Moselle successfully displays the rawness of skateboarding through various close ups and camera movements and contrasts that with the serenity and freedom that all these characters are feeling while skateboarding with her song choices and slow distance shots that capture moments of pure joy. Skate Kitchen is an interesting look at friendship, maturity, and passion mixed with an insider glimpse at a skating culture that many have never seen or experienced and is worth a watch.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5