The best we should reasonably expect from a movie like `Blue Crush' is that we will be treated to some stunning footage of surfers riding the world's greatest waves (along Hawaii's Pipeline, natch) to personal fame and glory. We certainly get that in abundance - but what we have less right to expect, perhaps, is that the film will offer anything else of any real quality. After all, we've been to these kinds of movies before, harking all the way back to those halcyon Bleach Blanket Bingo days when Gidget, Moondoggie and the rest of those addle-brained, teeny-bopper cut-ups aspired to nothing higher than a life of eternal youth spent wallowing in the bleach-white sands of Santa Monica or Malibu. In the case of `Blue Crush,' therefore, I am happy to report that the screenplay - by Lizzy Weiss (based on a magazine article by Susan Orlean) -provides just enough touches of realism to keep this new film both life-sized and interesting. And the majority of the credit goes to the film's protagonist, Anne Marie Chadwick who, much to our surprise, engages our sympathies from first moment to last.
Anne Marie is no bubble-headed, bleached-blond bimbo with nothing on her mind but winning the big Pipeline competition. Although that is, indeed, part of her life's plan, Anne Marie is, also, an intelligent, pragmatic young woman, fully aware of both her strengths and weaknesses and just trying the best she knows how to make her life work for her, the young sister in her charge and the two surf buddy girlfriends she lives and works with. Anne Marie is also riddled with insecurities, as she struggles to overcome the fear instilled in her by a near-fatal accident in that very same spot a few years earlier. Meanwhile, she and her pals work hard trying to eke out a living as maids at a posh hotel, earning just enough money to keep a roof over their heads and pay some of their bills so they will be free to head to the coast at the first sign of prime `Surf's Up' conditions.
The acting in the film is really quite impressive. As Anne Marie, Kate Bosworth lights up the screen with her subtly nuanced, poised and dignified performance. She knows how to use understated facial expressions to convey the thoughts and feelings of the character she is portraying. Equally compelling are Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake as her fun-loving buddies, Mika Boorem as her little sister, and Matthew Davis as the professional football quarterback who becomes her love interest. Director John Stockwell, to his credit, manages to keep the majority of the scenes intimate in tone and realistic in nature, rarely allowing the narrative to wander into overwrought melodrama or teen-movie farce. Even the obligatory fight scene is kept restrained and believable.
There are occasional weaknesses in the film a gaggle of snooty football wives and groupies who snub Anne Marie for being too lower class for their tastes are the primary offenders but, on the whole, `Blue Crush' turns out to be a much better film than its subject matter would ever lead us to expect. That comes as a particularly pleasant and un-looked-for surprise here in the shank of the summer movie going season.
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