Genre: Drama, Thriller
Year Released: 2023
Director(s): Roope Olenius
Writer(s): Veera W. Vilo
Cast: Veera W. Vilo, Leena Uotila, Karoliina Blackburn, Jevgeni Haukka, Miikka J. Anttila, Saara Elina, Regina Launivuo, Sirke Lääkkölä, Ilona Chevakova, Slava Dugin, Beata Harju, Viivi Pumpanen
Language: Finnish/English w/English subtitles
Where To Watch: Opening in Los Angeles for a weeklong run at the Laemmle Noho on January 27. Then on cable and digital platforms on February 28, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: FREE SKATE is a film about the gritty world of figure skating and the intense pressure placed on young athletes. The story follows a young skater who was brutally attacked and left for dead.
The audience is thrown into the story with little context and is left to piece together the narrative. Through “flashbacks,” the audience discovers more about this skater's past and the connections to others in the film. This storytelling style works well, forcing the audience to work to understand the basics of the story.
The skating scenes are very well done, and the depiction of the world these characters inhabit is interesting while also feeling like it’s missing something (I’m still not sure if that was done intentionally or not.) The audience looks inside at what it takes to become a professional in this field and the pressures on them to excel in an already crowded field.
However, the film takes a dark approach in its contrast between Russian and Finnish training methods. The film's third act turns towards graphic violence and unexpected encounters, handled in a very straightforward but almost grotesque manner. I feel like this was done intentionally but ended up being more of just a shock factor than something that helped build the film,
Overall, FREE SKATE is a dark film about a young woman and the danger and hurdles she faces to succeed. I would only suggest this if you’re prepared for it; while I wasn’t expecting the I, TONYA approach, I don’t think I was ready for what FREE SKATE had in store for me.
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[photo courtesy of KINDIECAN ENTERTAINMENT]