SKATELAND – Sundance Movie Review
SKATELAND takes place in 1983 and follows the life of 19-year-old Ritchie (Shiloh Fernandez) as he spends his time between the local roller rink where he works and hanging out with his friends Brent (Heath Freeman), Brent’s sister Michelle (Ashley Greene), and Kenny (Taylor Handley). Richie is still trying to figuring out what he wants for his future, he’s not sure where his heart lies, never mind where he wants to go to college. Unfortunately, when a tragedy strikes close to home, Richie is faced with growing up faster than he would have liked to and forced to make the decisions he had been delaying.
Skateland is as you have guessed a coming of age story, which had some good moments but was slow at times, especially at the beginning. It seemed to pick up once the big crisis/tragedy happens.
The interesting thing about the movie is that even though the movie is called Skateland, most of the film is spent outside the roller rink. It soon becomes clear that Skateland symbolizes Richie’s journey and the threat of it closing clearly is a metaphor for Richie growing up and moving on, but I wish they had used it a little more in the film. What can I say, it’s fun watching people skate.
The cast of the movie is made up of young up and coming actors who all do a nice job in bringing the story to life.
Richie is played by Shiloh Fernandez whom you might have seen in a few TV shows, I personally knew him from Jericho. I think he captures the confusion that teenagers feel at that age and I think some people might be able to relate to him. Ashley Greene (from The Twilight Saga fame) plays Michelle, Richie’s good friend and potential love interest. I enjoyed her character and I actually wish we had seen more scenes between Michelle and Richie in the movie. Richie’s other friend, Kenny is played by Taylor Handley, whom The O.C. fans will know as Oliver Trask. Well let me tell you it took me a while to place him because he not only looks different but played such a different character from anything else I’ve seen him in, it was kind of fun to watch. I’m actually curious to see him in other things now. In Skateland he plays the sort of the relaxed, cool friend who takes things as they come.
The actor, however that shined the most in the film is Heath Freeman (who also produced and wrote the film) who plays Richie’s older friend and Michelle’s brother, Brent, who has just returned to town from a motorcycle competition. He definitely makes a lasting impression in the film mostly because of the boldness of the characters and the troubles he gets into. But there is one specific scene that particularly liked, in which he’s telling Richie and Kenny about his crazy night with this girl where he keeps getting interrupted by Richie who asks random questions like what he ate that night. It’s pretty fun.
Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, although I wish the pace had picked up a little. But where they really won me back was the ending, especially since I am a sucker for one of these types of endings.