The Novice | Film critic
March 27, 2022
The newbie what is rowing Whiplash is on drums, a particularly apt comparison given that early writer-director Lauren Hadaway worked as a sound editor on Damien Chazel’s film. Instead of following a young drummer vying to be the best ever, this film follows Alex (Isabelle Fuhrman), a college freshman who strives to be the best at everything she does, simply to prove to herself and others that she can. One of those things is rowing, and when she gets the chance to compete on her university’s varsity team, her obsessive competitiveness pushes her to physical and psychological breaking points. Hardaway puts it all in a captivating feature that’s expertly handled and a haunting sense of beauty that will ensure Alex’s ordeal sticks with viewers for a long time to come.
A major factor in what makes The newbie work is its star: Fuhrman is sensational in the lead role, her raw performance acting as an anchor in the anxiety-inducing plot as Alex’s life spirals out of control around her. The actor puts as much energy into his endeavors as his character does into rowing, making many sequences as uncomfortable and painful to watch as Andrew practicing the double-time swing until his hands bleed . However, Haraway also injects an eerie beauty into the chaos and self-destruction that makes his most compelling debut feature.
Right off the bat, it’s obvious that Alex is on a collision course for disaster (“catching a crab,” to use rowing terminology). Haraway cranks up the tension in a precise, calculated way that’s impossible to look away from, while playing with viewers’ expectations. It’s unclear exactly what Alex’s journey is about, but the filmmaker has audiences dreading the idea of anything when it finally happens.
It’s not all smooth sailing, however. Unlike the regular pace of rowers, the storyline cannot keep pace throughout. There are times when the tension relaxes for a few beats before tightening again.
One last similarity The newbie share with Whiplash It is because this film also marks the beginning of a career for a promising new voice in cinema.
The newbie hits select theaters on May 1st April 2022.
Watch the trailer for The newbie here: