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Because everyone missed the Challengers

Challengers is neither a guilty pleasure nor ultra-capitalist crap. If we agree to believe in it as much as Guadagnino believes in his characters, we also learn a lesson from cinema.

This article explains Challenger and contains spoilers from the film. Another good reason to go and see it.

After months of flashy promotion, Challengers was released in theaters. Except for a few critics who analyze it brilliantly, this film that seemed to have everything from pure marketing product to “sexy movie available on Netflix” caused, roughly speaking, two reactions among critics. Some dismissed it out of hand, considering it nothing more than a sort of broad advertisement for Nike and Adidas. Director Luca Guadagnino is criticized for constantly mentioning sexuality, but avoiding it when the serious stuff starts.

Others saw it as a sort of guilty pleasure. A film that we cannot deny that we liked, but which makes fun of us a little. We find that, AnywayZendaya wearing a lot of luxury brands, this stupid love triangle, and this soundtrack as corny as a college boom playlist, isn’t very serious.

All this criticism spread a bit quickly Challengers. To stick to either of these conclusions would be to miss the point. of a much deeper, more complex and emotional film. It solves several problems that plague many contemporary films and it also teaches us a lot about cinema.

There really is a love triangle ChallengersHere it is :

Patrick is a talented tennis player. He wins without too much effort and above all he’s cynical, that is, sees life as an absurd game in which there is not much meaning or value since we eventually die. They “he knows he’s a piece of shit, like everyone else”as he says at a certain point in the film. He is in love with art.

Art asks for only one thing: (re)rest. Go to college, get married, have a child, work, retire, die peacefully. He is in love with Tashi. “Who wouldn’t be?” he will answer when she asks him if he is in love with him. She loves it, because it’s the way to go, like everything else.

As for Tashi, she he is in love with tennis. That’s all.

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Simple, well-written characters make the best plots

In Challengersthe scenery flows naturally because it is meticulous coherence with the characters. Nothing comes for free. All events are justified by the characters and, in exchange, gives them meaning.


For example, too the accident from the movie (Tashi breaks his leg) it’s not one. In short, living one’s passion for a in a vampirizing, blind and all-encompassing way discipline it is not neither practicable nor liveable without self-destructing. It is therefore logical that all this existential investment will be re-injected elsewhere once playing becomes impossible for him. From this follows the very principle of the film: a woman who loves two men who love her and who also love each other. They never play tennis better than when they are guided by this love.

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Long live the degree in cinema and directors who believe in their characters

Guadagnino is a great director because he converted the talent of screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes into the language he masters: staging. Challengers can afford to be first degree it’s a formal extremism absolute because it is built on a solid foundation of writing. Guadagnino bombards us music ultra kitschof sculptural and desirable bodies shot from all angles (and also to show us point of view of a tennis ball at a certain point) because he believes in his characters.

He does not express contempt towards their passions maniacsThey petty jealousy, their repressed desires, their bodies breaking or their balls protruding. On the contrary, he makes his film a place of expression elegant of a Chanel advert in a capitalist world, spectacular as a shonen AND also hot of an erotic film, even without sex scenes. Guadagnino expresses the ambivalence of all these forms, always located on the border between the ridiculous and the grandiose, the power and the mediocrity, the living and the morbid.

Shonen style of Mike Faist in Challengers
Shonen style of Mike Faist in Challengers

The worldviews of Tashi, Art, and Patrick are so simple that they can be summarized in three paragraphs, as I have done above. However, they allow you to deploy a universe dramatic, sensorial, psychological. A world of of construction relations of power, femininity and masculinity, thanks to cinematographic language.

When faced with a quarrel or discussion, the heart beats faster. Faced with mini-shorts that reveal shapely buttocks, the lower abdomen warms up. When a kneecap breaks, the hands spontaneously tense up and hide the eyes. Our spectator body understands faster than our brain. Nor a montage that works flashback AND flashforwardsometimes for 2 lines of dialogue spoken 9 years agonor can dialogues that constantly play on the double meaning between tennis and relationships make us doubt.

We understand their decisions, their defects, their contradictions, their baseness and their impulses. So much so that essentially Tashi, Art and Patrick could be the personification of it three philosophies of life in struggle or in harmony that coexist in one person. A person you can relate to.


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Source: Madmoizelle

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