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VAX ONLY: The Novice

Women Directed

Dir. Lauren Hadaway USA 97 min

2021 IFC Films

Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan, 2009) plays Alex Dall, a queer college freshman who joins her university's rowing team and undertakes an obsessive physical and psychological journey to make it to the top varsity boat, no matter the cost. Intent on outperforming her teammates, Alex pushes herself to her limits—and beyond, alienating everyone around her in the name of success. Furhman’s fierce lead performance collides with Lauren Hadaway’s bold direction and dynamic editing, creating a visceral window into a cutthroat world. Stylish cinematography and a seductive soundtrack complete the experience, evoking the romance and danger of falling in love; the attraction, the drama and the fallout.

This unapologetic debut from Hadaway, based on her personal experience as a competitive collegiate rower, heralds a bold new voice in queer storytelling. If you liked Whiplash, this one’s for you. —Lucy Mukerjee

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