At first we don’t see the wolf on the mountain in the measured French drama Slalom, even when we’re told it is there. Neither does 15-year-old ski sensation Lyz (Noée Abita). But she sees the wolf in time. The movie echoes real-life news stories broken in recent years from a litany of sports.
The details are always grimly similar, girls and young women in the charge of older men for whom bullying and faux-friendship are different routes to one end: predatory sexual power. The former is what Lyz first encounters with Fred (Jérémie Renier), head coach at an elite ski school in Alpine Savoie. The insults, she is advised, are how he weeds out the less able. What better sell could there be to the hyper-competitive?
The course of the story holds few surprises once Lyz proves her mettle. At times, it can seem like a well-made TV dramatisation. But director Charlène Favier adds constant depth, unpicking the whole precarious dynamic of mentors and mentees. Her real coup is keeping Lyz the focus, always more than simply a victim. Scenes of her on the piste — visually thrilling — threaten to jar, too much like a sports movie. Then you realise this is where Lyz is most defiantly, triumphantly herself.
On Curzon Home Cinema in the UK from February 12