The Novice made me frustrated that there isn’t a rowing subgenre like there is for basketball and boxing flicks. Director Lauren Hadaway allows the rigor and difficulty level for rowing to be on full display here. Not only does the audience learn about the core techniques and terms associated with the sport, we also visually experience the sensation of rowing. The POV shots where the camera moves on the rowing machine really puts the audience in the mind frame of Alex and her teammates.
The real star in The Novice though is lead actress Isabelle Fuhrman. Fuhrman nails the wild, determined persona needed for a character like Alex. However, what is truly incredible about Fuhrman’s performance is how she alters her physicality as the film progresses and her determination to succeed at the sport becomes all-consuming. Her stature, facial expressions and physical injuries become more and more twisted to the point that one could barely recognize Alex compared to how the film first introduces her. This role is going to eventually make Isabelle Fuhrman a massive star and is one of the best performances of the year.
The Silver Lining
Alex Weston’s claustrophobic and anxiety inducing score is perfectly suited to Alex Dall’s decent into obsession. It’s a complete change of pace from his somber work on Lulu Wang’s The Farewell and proves that he’s a composing force to be reckoned with.
The Novice releases in select theaters and on video-on-demand platforms (Amazon, VUDU, FandangoNOW, etc.) on December 17th.