Rookie (2023)

Rookie (2023)

A slight but incredibly sweet teen lesbian romcom centered around volleyball



English, Tagalog
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Agot Isidro, Aya Fernandez, Che Ramos
94 min


The highest compliment I can give this movie is that getting to watch it in a cinema was like attending a Pride concert.

What it's about

Shy but athletic Ace is brought onto her new Catholic high school's volleyball team, where she meets their competitive team captain, Jana.

The take

If there are parts to Rookie's story that seem too easily resolved—for the sake of making this more of a feel-good movie—these shortcuts still serve a genuinely romantic central relationship that develops in the most organic way possible. Besides the school's stifling conservatism, there's nothing that really stands in the way of Ace and Jana's blossoming connection. By immediately advancing its depiction of queer love beyond the self-acceptance stage (where so many other films get stuck), Rookie is allowed to show us two girls in love and supporting each other, as the normal and beautiful thing it should be. It doesn't hurt either that the movie is pretty entertaining as a sports film, with just enough flash in its editing and sound design to sell the frantic energy of a game wherein you want to impress the person you have a crush on.

What stands out

While the volleyball scenes are made to be some of the most emotionally climactic sequences in the movie, it's the shared silences between Ace and Jana that ultimately carry the most irresistible tension. There's so much left unsaid that director/co-writer Samantha Lee communicates just in the way the two girls inch closer together, or in how they come to hold each other's gaze a little longer. Lee's camera knows not to intrude into their personal space when they really need the privacy, which actually makes their bond seem much more intimate than if we were right in their faces the entire time.


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