Slalom review – a teenage skier's hopes go downhill in bone-chilling abuse drama

Fifteen-year-old Lyz (Noée Abita) is on course to become a champion skier. A gifted athlete, she also has the grit, fearlessness and youthful arrogance necessary to rise through the ranks at a training programme in the Alps. In this tense, bone-chilling first feature, French writer-director Charlène Favier looks at how teenage girls are often punished for that boldness.

Abita plays Lyz with an air of invincibility that soon curdles into powerlessness as her coach, Fred (Jérémie Renier), begins to scrutinise and prey on her vulnerabilities. He comments on her changing body, pinching her stomach and lecturing her about how “periods are beautiful”. But for every inappropriate remark, there’s welcome praise too. With her mother (Muriel Combeau) off in Marseilles and distracted by a new boyfriend, and her friends more interested in partying, perfectionist Lyz can’t help but crave adult acknowledgment. It’s a vicious cycle: Lyz trains harder, and so Fred intervenes further, treating each win as an invitation to cross another boundary. Favier is smart on the mechanics of abuse, and the sobering inevitability of her heroine’s downhill skid.

• On Curzon Home Cinema


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