Favorite Fictional Characters, #219: Kate Moseley
A nod to here to the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games with a detour back into guilty pleasure territory. 1992's romcom The Cutting Edge is formulaic, predictable, and very much a product of its time, and yet I've always enjoyed it. The simple story benefits from a workmanlike effort by the poor man's John Cusack, D.B. Sweeney, as the can't-miss hockey prospect shunted by injury into the alien world of competitive figure skating. But - and this falls perhaps under the heading of confessions - I find Moira Kelly utterly adorable and compelling in this movie. She's had a weird career - the only unwatchable aspect of the first season of The West Wing, a shrug-worthy outing as the voice of Nala in The Lion King, holding her own opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in Chaplin (also 1992), and a cute-enough performance opposite Brendan Fraser and Joe Peschi in 1994's With Honors. Looking back, the early 1990's were a peak for Kelly she'd never approach again.
Her Kate Moseley, the feisty rich-bitch world-class skater, is Kelly at her eyebrow-arching, hip-tilting, smirking best. She blames everybody else for her failures to win gold - coaches, partners - everyone but herself. She's demanding, tough, resilient, but unwilling to face her own shortcomings until the hockey kid from Minnesota calls out her bullshit. The training sequences that follow are quality comedy, dated cinematic styles notwithstanding. And yeah, of course we know they'll win. And we know they'll wind up together. But the mix of action and sexual tension work well, and as her ice melts, Kate's basic innocence is disarmingly charming and, for 17-year old me, totally magnetic.
Detractors have plenty to chirp about with this movie, but it has a lot of heart, humor, and Sweeney and Kelly manage to bring depth and humanity to two characters who might easily have been cardboard cutouts. Kate in particular is a wonderful portrait in the lonesome isolation often visited upon young athletic prodigies, on the sacrifice and opportunity cost of the quest for Olympic Gold.