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Holly Marie Combs,
This Ski Break makes better entertainment than most Spring Breaks
With a population of under 10 million, many of whom are not native French speakers, it is a matter of pride to Quebec that it has built up and maintains a vigorous ongoing French speaking film industry. To do this costs must be cut to a minimum, films must have a wide enough general appeal to attract relatively large audiences when they are shown, and directors must always be aware that dubbed versions of their works may be needed to obtain them a limited circulation elsewhere in North America, or even just to sustain important VHS and DVD sales outside Quebec. These three constraints make the production of great works of art unlikely, and relatively few Quebec films have received wide international acclaim. Nevertheless they are generally competently made and acted works which are easy to watch and enjoy. They have also created a pool of competent and experienced actors who have a significant string of credits to their name and deserve to be better known outside Quebec. The two stars of this film Daniel Pilon and Celine Lomez provide good examples. Both can boast of a long list of major films in which they have participated, and as far as I know both remain professionally active today: but, as native French speakers who have filmed primarily in Quebec, neither has achieved the wide recognition they deserve in the English speaking film world (although Daniel Pilon has been more successful in this respect than Celine Lomez). It is very difficult to make a major mark as an actor in a film which most of its viewers will see only in a dubbed version.
Apres Ski is set in a Quebec ski lodge, probably in the Laurentian hills near Montreal, but the almost non-existent story is a pure farce which is liberally decorated with a number of attractive young girls displaying more than just their skills on skis. It is in many ways reminiscent of the crop of spring break films released in the U.S.A. Ski lodges provide many young people fortunate enough to live in nearby areas with physical challenges, skill building experiences and early opportunities to break away from home and start to find their own feet. In Europe and Canada, as well as some parts of the U.S.A., they provide a more sophisticated version of the simple "Spring Break" experience, and it is perhaps surprising that there have not been more films exploiting this. I never went on a spring break, but I had a number of happy stays in ski lodges when young, and now that I have had to give up skiing I found that my memories of these stays - even though I never had the (mis)fortune to go to one with the range of extra-curricular activities shown in this film - added to my enjoyment whilst watching it.
The French have always taken a more relaxed attitude to displaying the human body than most North Americans, but in their films they have also excelled in depicting normal human feelings. If we compare "One Wild Moment" with its Hollywood remake "Blame it on Rio", the first thing which is obvious is that Hollywood replaced the traditional Mediterranean beach where women with appropriate figures regard it as natural to wear monokinis, by Rio de Janeiro where this does not occur. But once one has seen the two films it is hard not to also recognise that in "Blame it on Rio" the sensitive treatment of the relationship between the principal characters, which made the original film so worth watching, has also been thrown away, to be replaced by some very corny comedy sequences. In my view to classify Apres Ski as a simple T & A soft porn frolic does not do it justice. Many people read books just to be entertained - others feel they have wasted their time if they are not either educated or forced to think whilst doing so. It is the same with films. For most of us simple entertainment and relaxation are important aspects of our lives, and films which provide for these needs competently also deserve to be recognised.
I could fill this page with criticism of this film but see no point in doing so. I found its worst feature to be very juvenile comedy dialogue, but this may have been accentuated by bad dubbing and may have been much less evident in the original film. Just comparing the English title of the dubbed film (Snowballin') with the original title Apres Ski suggests that this is probably the case. Also, I have only seen a cable TV version of the film which appeared to have been considerably shortened from its listed length, and this may have given it greater appeal, but for me Apres Ski whilst not a great film was enjoyable to watch and it deserved a rating of six out of ten.
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