Rookie

By Alex Tsilifonis | Drama
A security guard sees potential in a young kid on the basketball court that he locks up.

A security guard in Greece watches over a basketball court, wiling away the hours by watching games on TV. Hearing a suspicious sound one day, he investigates the area and finds himself observing a gifted young basketball player who has devised a makeshift court in a soccer field because he's too young to play with the older players on the real court.

When that young player sneaks onto the main basketball court to play at night, the guard is supposed to send him away so he can go home. Instead, he decides to let the kid play -- a choice that sets off a chain reaction that will change his future.

Written and directed by Alex Tsilifonis, this inspiring short drama has elements of a sports film, with its angle of raw talent and the obstacles that get in the way of its development. But it's really about a moment of understanding and generosity between two strangers, and how it can change the trajectory of a life.

The dialogue is sparse and the narrative has an equally pared-down simplicity, but it remains dynamic and engaging, thanks to a sharp eye for camera and editing and an energetic musical score. The action moves at a clip, quickly and economically laying down the essentials of the story, from the guard's essential duty and the young boy's drive.

The film is anchored by solid performances by actors Antonis Tsiotsiopoulos and David Edoze as the guard and boy, respectively. Both are immediately and easily compelling. There's a quiet subtext about the boy's social status as an outsider with much community or resources, but the film focuses on his talent and persistence. Both the boy and the guard have a lived-in quality in their roles, and in their limited interaction, they both capture a silent, quick yet resonant moment of understanding.

That moment is enough to prove pivotal to the young boy, and helps end "Rookie" on an inspiring, heartwarming note. Audiences will likely want to know more about the boy, his trajectory and if the moment between him and the guard developed into a genuine rapport. But the film ends on a high note and helps us appreciate how small acts of kindness can pay off with big, life-changing dividends. We never know what roles we play in another's story. But "Rookie" makes the case that the casual moments of friendliness, generosity and understanding we give to one another have ripple effects beyond what we can imagine.




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