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Hurt So Good
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Opening night, premier screenings at any film festival are pole position. If you’ve got the goods, your movie is going to get noticed and that favorable word of mouth is gold.  It was Hurt So Good, from Austrian ski crew Legs of Steel that was chosen to be among the lead-off movies at the International Freeski Film Festival 2012 in Montreal this weekend and it was, in very frame, hugely deserving of that honor.

I can only imagine that the closing scene from Nothing Else Matters, last year’s offering from LOS, left such an indelible impression, that whatever the LOS crew did next was going to get the attention of the ski movie honchos at the IF3.  The resounding visual of 13 skiers simultaneously hitting three closely spaced kickers was a knockout punch.  Hurt So Good embellishes that well-won reputation as director Andre Nutini works his camera and editing suite like a conductor working his orchestra.  He has full command over all his filmmaking instruments – his use of focus change and slow motion is fluid and masterful – you just have to sit back and let the film wash over you.  His perfect camera placement and his editing virtuosity lets you bear witness to the LOS skiers’ audacious, balls to the wall skiing from all the best angles.

Opening with a montage of x-rays and skiing accidents, Nutini draws out his premise that his crew’s passion for skiing will overcome even the most disastrous of consequences.  The voice-overs list, in detail, the broken bones, the stitches, the ruptured organs and the accompanying montage of accidents that caused all this has you cringing in your seat.  But you’re removed from that almost immediately by the big-mountain and urban sequences that follow. Everything is shot in such grand, beautiful terms that the pain is forgotten and the thrill that skiing provides takes over completely.  By the third sequence, in St Anton Arlberg in the Tyrolean Alps, Nutini really steps up his game with his use of slow-motion and his unerring sense of when to apply it, when to take it off and when to apply it again (many times all in the same shot).  The result is an almost clinical dissection of the skier’s form but as if done by a fine-art photographer like Jeff Wall.  Hurt So Good is the type of film where repeated viewings are the order of the day.

Hurt So Good’s athletes throw down in a big way, pushing the limits whether in the park, urban settings or the mountains.  With all sequences being so dynamically rendered, closing the film with a killer scene would be a tough job. But Nutini pulls out all the stops with a massive, road-side kicker (sponsor FIAT’s money was well spent here) and captures the session from every angle, above and below, as the boys go huge.  Backed by a massive soundtrack with Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart”, it’s a bravura performance by filmmaker and skiers alike crystallizing the drama and making you feel like you were there.

This is a great film from a powerhouse crew and it’s definitely a standout among the 2012 crop of ski movies.  Winner of the award for Best Cinematography at the 2012 IF3.    By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail

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Reviewed by AttorneyGeneral on September 16, 2012

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