The Novice

Have you ever told someone who is upset to relax? Yeah. Experience has taught me it’s the worst possible thing to say to my wife in stressful moments and has the exact opposite effect.

The Novice is a movie about a young woman, Alex Dall, who is a freshman at a university where she is driven in all things. Not just academics, but her determination to not only be on the rowing team, but the make varsity crew her first year as a novice.

She’s intense beyond the point of common sense, thus the refrain from those around her to relax. But she can’t she’s driven to succeed no matter how much she hurts herself. And ignores those around her.

Overall, I wasn’t engaged in the movie. As with all my reviews it’s largely because of my background and point of view. Having been through numerous hard-core training programs I winced every time some varsity members would sneer “Novice” as it was Plebe or any other term I’ve heard over the years. It sounds funny coming out of the mouth of some 20-something about rowing. But when it’s your priority I guess it’s important.

I just wasn’t into the way the theme and message were hammered home. Every time the image of the crab was shown, I assume that was an insight into Dall’s feverish mind, but her actions were enough to show that. It felt like overkill. And the violin soundtrack about drove me nuts. I get it’s a dramatic scene. Don’t need the soaring soundtrack going “hey! Emotional scene!”. At times the movie shifted into a music video which is hard to do well and I don’t feel succeeded here. But I imagine someone much younger and of a different gender would be much more in tune. I feel old.

The movie was an interesting view into the mind of a person who is obsessive. The ending was positive when Dall finally realizes that her obsession is not only bad for herself but those around her. I liked the confrontation with her #1 freshman competitor who points out where Dall has gone astray in her single-minded focus. The last scene is well done; I wish more of the movie had been like that.

This is a movie that will appeal to a certain group of people. Just relax and watch.