The Novice, which debuted at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival winning three awards: best US narrative feature film, best actress and best cinematography for Todd Martin, is the directorial debut of US writer-director Lauren Hadaway. Based on the filmmaker’s personal experiences, it is the portrait of a college freshman who joins her university’s rowing team and undertakes an obsessive extreme physical and psychological journey to make it to the top varsity boat.
Intent on outperforming her teammates, Alex (Isabelle Fuhrman) 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, The Novice, heralds a bold new voice in queer storytelling. The film also shares similarities to films like Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash (which Hadaway worked on as sound editor) and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. All are films about solitary people with few meaningful connections, consumed by their respective passions. Their world is full of shadows and darkness, with heavily saturated, expressive uses of colour to create a full, nightmarish sensory film experience.