Friday, January 12, 2024

Weak Layers: Movie Review

A very enjoyable movie about skiing, friends, lovers, and life in a ski town.
Weak Layers might seem like a simple movie on the surface – a skiing comedy where three female friends try to win a competition – but it successfully incorporates around 4 different simple ideas to tell a movie slightly different than expected to allow the audience to just be entertained by the skiing, the comedy, the romance. It’s got it all and remains a very simple, easy to like, fun to watch little movie.   2023

Directed by: Katie Burrell

Screenplay by: Katie Burrell, Andrew Ladd

Starring: Katie Burrell, Jadyn Wong, Chelsea Conwright, Evan Jonigkeit

The filmmakers wanted to bring the ‘80s ski competition genre into today’s world. It tells you it’s doing this by centering on three women who face different forms of misogyny every day and are up for a ski-filmmaking challenge dominated by men. But it actually brings that old genre into today’s world by centering on what came out of that ‘80s ski craze: documentary-style filmmaking of outdoor sports. The story, if there even is one, is secondary, it’s about skilled filmmakers grabbing impressive shots of talented athletes. What that genre quickly taught viewers and filmmakers alike, is that it doesn’t even need to be extreme sports or death-defying stunts to grab people’s attention; It just needs to be good skiing, well-executed tricks and fun to watch.

Weak Layers is way more than just outdoor filmmaking because it does indeed have a story. It’s a quarter-life crisis of three girls. Cleo Brown (Katie Burrell) is a filmmaker, but no nothing anyone would’ve seen because she hasn’t actually made anything yet; she just spends her days skiing, getting drunk and complaining about her gay ex-boyfriend. And she is the more put-together one of the trio. Tina (Chelsea Conwright) is a former Olympic skier who crashed during her one shot at fame and now spends her days skiing and then getting drunk and hooking up with whoever she can because she’s still hot. Lucy (Jadyn Wong) wants to be a professional skier, but instead of spending her days skiing, she mostly spends them drinking and performing reckless stunts in their house to get them evicted. This movie is also about how girls can be just as irresponsible as boys.

A third main story incorporated is life in a ski town. Filmed and set in Lake Tahoe, it features that disparate life between living a resort fantasy but then not being able to afford it. The tourists and all the professional skiers who descend on the town during competition weekends drive prices up, forcing the residents into an endless stream of minimum-wage jobs, living out of a van and a sort of arrested development when you realize you have lived there for 10 years and not matured a day. One of my favourite bits during the ending is the differentiation between roommates and friends.

What ties it all together is a simple romantic comedy with one of the better created male leads for the genre – Gabe (Evan Jonigkeit) is a famous and very hot skier who is paired up with an equally famous very arrogant misogynistic filmmaker for the ski-movie competition. While Dane is just there as the villain and for laughs, Gabe provides a much more realistic version of how men have a natural spotlight on them that women have to work harder for.

While everything in Weak Layers has been done and said before, it all comes together seamlessly for a very enjoyable movie about skiing, friends, lovers, and life in a ski town.