As we have seen on many occasions over the last few decades, the relationship between coach and athlete can readily be abused. Parents give their children into the hands of professionals on the understanding that they will act as responsible adults for the duration of their guardianship. In extreme cases, such as the Larry Nassar case in America, that bond of trust can be horrendously exploited. This is the case in Slalom.
15-year-old Lyz (Noée Abita) is scared and excited when she’s accepted onto an elite training program for talented skiers. Her dream is being chosen for the Olympics but the teen struggles to juggle her schooling with a rigorous training regime. However, after she starts to win races, their strict coach, Fred (Jérémie Renier), begins taking an unhealthy interest in her. Feeling abandoned by her mother (Muriel Combeau), who has taken a job in Marseilles, Lyz comes to rely more and more on him.
Slalom is an immaculately constructed coming-of age drama which intelligently addresses the topics of abuse and adolescence from the perspective of the confused, unhappy, yet determined teenager. Charlène Favier deftly handles proceedings, avoiding melodrama and the myriad pitfalls that come with the territory. She’s ably assisted by Abita, who handles the role perfectly. Yann Maritaud’s beautiful and subtle cinematography captures the strangeness and isolation of the situation Lyz finds herself in. Slalom is an assured and impressive feature debut.
Slalom is released on digital and Curzon Home Cinema on 12 February.