In ski racing, athletes balance the rewards of glory downhill with the dangers of a fall. The sensitive and uncomfortable drama “Slalom” follows Lyz (Noée Abita), a 15-year-old recruit at a ski resort in the French Alps. There, young skiers are molded into champions by an ambitious trainer, Fred (Jérémie Renier).
From their first meeting, the relationship between Lyz and Fred is physical. Fred asks Lyz to undress so that he can monitor his weight, his musculature, his menstrual cycle, his physical form. Lyz flourishes under his attention. Her skiing improved and she began to win tournaments.
But when Fred oversteps his role as a mentor to initiate a sexual relationship with Lyz, the intensity of their dynamic takes disastrous consequences for his sense of well-being. The relationship is not technically criminal and the choice to make Lyz the age of consent recently proposed in France seems deliberate. But the case is unmistakably predatory, built on a power dynamic that robs Lyz of his free will.
Writer and director Charlène Favier has a competitive skier experience, and she is attentive to the textures of mountain sports and the way abuse plays out in this setting.
Fred smears ice cream on Lyz’s neck before a heat, and he takes it to carry it to the winner’s podium – succinct, specific signs of fuzzy boundaries.
For races, Favier’s camera does not observe from a distance; in this film, there is nothing of the safety of Olympic sports footage. Instead, the camera weaves its way through the posts along Lyz, tearing the mountain apart, mimicking his giddy and frightening abandon.
Unclassified. In French, subtitled. In some cinemas and in virtual cinemas. Please review the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies in theaters.