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Slick visuals don’t distract from a severely underdeveloped script that unconvincingly heads towards a climax so ambiguous it falls flat completely.

If you received 50 cents for every tired cliché or forced attempt at drama in new Flemish movie Rookie, you'd be a multimillionaire before the end credits rolled.

The picture, which centres on a motorcyclist who tries to revive his stab at glory on the track through his nephew after he himself is badly injured in a racing accident, never feels like a genuine character piece, as it cobbles together a series of unconvincing events and underdeveloped characters to mostly yawning effect.

Director Lieven Van Baelen, who honed his skills in commercials and music videos, attempts to hide the lack of a compelling narrative behind slick visuals but any casual viewer will immediately ascertain that the thematic threads in Rookie are undercooked, that the acting is rote and that the movie's climax is ambiguous for the sole reason that the filmmakers have no clue whatsoever about the message they wish to convey.

As such, Rookie is yet another recent Flemish film that seems destined to fail to connect with a large audience, adding to the woes of an industry that hasn't produced either a critical or commercial hit in over two years.

release: 2021

director: Lieven Van Baelen

starring: Veerle Baetens, Matteo Simoni, Stefaan Degand, Stilian Keli


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