For her feature film making debut, Charlène Favier chose to tackle a sensitive though timely topic. Slalom focuses on the intimate relationship formed between a mentor and mentee, and how this power dynamic can be exploited by the mentor. The film blends slow and sometimes arduous scenes of increasing abuse with loud and kinetic ski races for a perfectly balanced feature.
Lyz Lopez (Noée Abita) enrolls in a strict skiing academy where the coach Fred (Jérémie Renier) immediately pegs her as the student with the greatest potential. He dedicates extra time to help Lyz train, grooming her to be a champion and also just grooming her. From the moment she arrives, he finds ways to touch her, all under the guise of a trainer keeping the trainee’s muscles warm and ready. Lyz being only 15 and completely separated from her mother as a supportive figure stays stoic as his advances intensify. She tells herself that winning the European Championship is worth any trauma.
Slalom is an extremely singular story. Everything important to the plot is either done by or to Lyz. Because of this, it is imperative that the lead actress delivers a solid performance, and Abita does just that. The range of demeanors that her character adorns requires an extensive amount of precise body language and the puffy snow attire complicates the ask even more. Through all the acting challenges, Abita succeeds and then some. In less than 100 minutes, she transforms from timid upon enrolling, to arrogant after her first major victory, and finally to someone completely dissociate from the world due to the trauma she has endured.
Headlined by a superb performance from up-and-actress Noée Abita, Slalom has a lot going for it. Between Abita’s acting, the extraordinary ski cinematography, and a screenplay that handles the subject with the grace it deserves, Slalom is an excellent representation of an unfortunately common occurrence.