No one expects skateboarders to be great actors, and in that respect, the nonpros who populate the low-rent “Sk8 Life” do not disappoint. But even if the attempt to tell a story in this B.C.-shot effort is a bit lame, the atmospherics still make it fun to watch. Pic will definitely get some air in urban youth centers and on vid.
Vancouver skater Kris Foley –playing himself or someone like him — gamely anchors the slim saga of ragtag boarders who gather to bitch, drink beer and mooch money and food when they’re not skating, talking about skating or photographing each other skating.
The only other thing on their fuzz-hatted minds is the imminent demise of the Crash-Pad, a funky bungalow occupied by Kris and his easygoing girlfriend (Kathy Miller). In the street-level world of these talented but otherwise deprived youngsters, who also include skate fiends Chad Dickson and Jarvis Nigelsky (himself a talented filmmaker), Kris and g.f. are almost parental.
Indeed, the concept of aging is one of the smarter subtexts here. (Kris’s receding hairline is a suggested, if unspoken, issue.) They try to keep the place running to provide a home to these wayward kids. And there’s a bittersweet if sketchy subplot about a 14-year-old visitor with a crush on the group’s resident tomboy.
At the Whistler Film Festival, the vid-shot effort (transferred to 35mm) won d.p. John Ainslee the cinematography award. Helmer Wyeth Clarkson developed the script with Elan Mastai, who appears in the film as a smarmy screenwriter looking to capture the skating lifestyle. (Mastai previously scripted a skateboarding chimp flick, “MVP2.”)
Almost nothing about “Sk8 Life” works at the craft level; most of the pic is as washed-out as the thesping is limp. But Clarkson and others have cut the footage and added animation and a wide range of music (think Richard Linklater with no money) in such lively and unpredictable ways that younger auds will end up glad to be taken for a ride — even when they know the pavement is hard and never far away.