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BRIFF 2021

Recensione: Rookie

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- Lieven Van Baelen propone un tuffo vertiginoso nel mondo delle corse su strada, un concentrato di adrenalina, audacia, ma anche mascolinità spesso tossica, e sogni infranti

Recensione: Rookie
Matteo Simoni e Valentijn Braeckman in Rookie

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Rookie [+leggi anche:
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, the feature debut from Flemish director Lieven Van Baelen, is having its world premiere in the National Competition of the Brussels International Film Festival, and will be released in Belgium on 8 September via Kinepolis.

Nicky (a pitch perfect Matteo Simoni) is a true motorhead. Motorcycling is in his blood. He lives his life at full throttle, on the track and beyond. So much so that one may wonder what his life off the road is like. An object of admiration for the many passionate members of the street bike community (with motorcycle races organised not on race tracks but on “traditional” roads), Nicky is about to see his dream come true: he just might become a professional racer.

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But danger is inherent to the sport, and his destiny skids off together with his motorcycle. Severely hurt, Nicky shows extraordinary strength and motivation as he tries to return to his former level, but it’s just not happening. Although his mind is more ready than ever, his body doesn’t follow. 

Nicky therefore tries to hand his dream over to his nephew Charlie, and the son of his brother who himself was a motorcycling champion but died on the track. There might be his second chance. But dreams cannot be forced onto other people, and the art of driving doesn’t necessarily run in the family. 

Rookie begins and ends with a race. The film immediately plunges the audience at the heart of danger, offering a serious dose of adrenaline, taking up for a lap at 300 km/h, to the rhythm of the breathing of the driver, who grazes death at every turn in order to feel more alive. 

The hyper realistic experience of the race is emphasised by the "documentary" images punctuating the film. The motorcycling scenes were shot during real street bike competitions, capturing on their way the very particular atmosphere of the milieu, where camaraderie and rivalry, friendships and competition coexist and alternate between one another. It’s a highly virile atmosphere, made of drunkenness — for alcohol, for speed, for danger, for victory… or for defeat.

But while the street bike world is very particular, the themes tackled are more universal, among them that of living by proxy. Because behind the victory of Charlie, a promising young man of the road, Nicky’s own is at play. As is often the case in high performance sports, and even in art industries, trainers who are sometimes dethroned champions transfers their own dreams of glory to the young athletes they coach. 

Matteo Simoni is perfect in this very physical and intense role, and imposes himself as a rising talent in Flemish cinema. In this men’s world, we nevertheless find Belgian actress Veerle Baetens, playing the role of Charlie’s mother, a supportive but worried witness to her brother-in-law’s woes. Charlie, meanwhile, is played by Valentijn Braeckman in his first major role. 

Rookie is produced by Czar Film & TV, in co-production with Versus Production, Baldr Film, VTM and RTBF. Dutch FilmWorks is handling international sales.

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