Backwards

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Having failed to achieve her Olympic-team dreams, a 30-year-old rower (Sarah Megan Thomas) is compelled by her demanding mother (Margaret Colin) to take a school-coaching gig for a hunky athletic director (James Van Der Beek). Director Ben Hickernell shoots his action with a showy glossiness (overblown lighting, slow-mo galore) that, though aesthetically assured, makes the proceedings feel like a prolonged advertisement. Meanwhile, the story follows a predictable trajectory in which Thomas’s intense protagonist learns to ditch her workaholic hard-ass ways and wear some makeup in order to reconnect with her mom, find love and enjoy life. The lesson here, apparently, is that driven women just need to lighten up and stop being selfish—a message that really does feel backward.

Follow Nick Schager on Twitter: @nschager

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