Inspired by a journalistic report titled "Surf Girls of Maui", Blue Crush tries to be the first female empowerment movie for surfing culture. It starts right where Puberty Blues (1981) ended, with girls striding off to face the waves.
It has all the right elements in place – fresh young actors, vast beach landscapes, awesome photography of churning water – but a flat, uninspired script.
Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) is an aspiring surfer. She is mocked by guys, but has the undying support of her gal pals, Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake). Most cripplingly, Anne Marie grapples with the fear caused by an earlier surfing accident. She's so besieged by repetitive flashbacks to her primal trauma that she scarcely seems to be living in the present.
Director John Stockwell was an actor and writer before graduating to direction on the intriguing Crazy/Beautiful (2001) and a gripping telemovie, Cheaters (2000). Blue Crush is a step backwards for him. Stale insertions of comic relief, a paltry love interest between Annie Marie and Matt (Matthew Davis), and endless, frenetic montage sequences serve as mere filler between the surfing bouts.
This movie is soft at the centre – most evidently so in its inability to do anything with Rodriguez, who was so dazzling in Girlfight (2000) but now seems typecast as the snarling chick forever on the action sidelines.
But at least Blue Crush finds a good reason to use (over and over) that ubiquitous new technical trick, the variable motion or speed ramping that jolts us in and out of different speeds in the course of a single movement.
For surfers in the middle of a mighty wave, their perception of a dangerous, thrilling reality must indeed be a little like that.
MORE Stockwell: Into the Blue
© Adrian Martin December 2002