Inside Out 2024: Our Review of ‘Rookie’ (2023)

Posted in Festival Coverage by - May 25, 2024
Inside Out 2024: Our Review of ‘Rookie’ (2023)

Co-writer and director Samantha Lee’s Rookie has its stereotypical moments, but it hits at much of what universal things girls face, and yes, even that locker room scene where girls talk about periods feel like regular life. The girls in this film are in provincial Philippines, waiting to play volleyball and lose to rivals. The series of losses affects the titular rookie, Ace Asuncion (Pat Tingjuy), who is going to get crap for the loss.

One win in Rookie turns Ace’s life around until a physical trainer (Mikoy Morales) sexually touches her, but she gets support. That support comes from Jana Ramos (Aya Fernandez), an enemy in the team who somehow becomes her girlfriend. Also, there’s Coach Jules (Agot Isidro), who insists, nicely, that Ace is a rough diamond who needs polishing. Last but not least, there’s Ace’s mother (Che Ramos) who supports how her daughter expresses herself romantically.

I didn’t plan to use this piece to focus on the B-plot involving the physical trainer’s inappropriate behaviour. Even if I like Rookie, honestly, there may be other ways for the film to handle that B-plot. The film, thankfully, has some, um, aces, up its sleeve, the first one being how Tingjuy treats Ace. And that B-plot helps nurture the love and support that Ace and Jana have for each other.

Rookie keeps its focus on its two leads while giving a spotlight to supporting actors who deserve their flowers. I can’t believe that this is my first film that features Agot Isidro, who gives warmth to Jules. This is true even if she theoretically is punishing Ace and Jana for being late to their practice. Even if they’re late, the whole team stands up for them, that camaraderie warms my icy jaded heart.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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