Movie Review: Challengers

Movie Review: Challengers

By Bessy ADUT

I would like to review the hot topic of the week, the movie “Challengers”. I’ve been wanting to see this movie ever since I saw the trailers because I think they did a stellar job. I have a bit of a tennis background so it’s one of those I do enjoy watching. Everyone’s been talking about this movie good or bad. My review is also a mix but still on the positive side.

The first thing I am going to say is that the cinematography and editing stands out. The film begins with slow motion, macro shots, and fast-paced pop music. That is a unique mark of the director and cinematographer. It does feel a bit like a commercial reel, but I still enjoyed this unique style that repeated throughout the movie. The cast is all so gorgeous looking, it’s hard to take your eyes off of the screen for a minute. They all have great charisma. The movie is very interesting. As we watch a tennis match we also see a lady just like a tennis ball; going back and forth between two loves. The love triangle and watching champion tennis players, the drama between friends and lovers, are all interesting to watch. Most importantly this is not another remake or a sequel but an original movie on its own and those days. Honestly that comes like a fresh breath of air.

The critical response is overall good. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film got mostly positive feedback giving it an average of 8/10. My one logline critic is “Challengers is a head turner for sure. Stormy love relationships, strong but shaky friendships, and the competitive nature of sports combined in this movie with unique cinematography, editing, and mesmerizing cast.”

I would recommend it. It did really well at the box office in the opening week too. The film was released by Warner Bros Pictures. It was going to be the opening film of the 80th Venice International Film Festival however got pulled back during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. So it got premiered in Sydney, Australia on March 26, 2024. Afterward, premieres followed in Paris, London and when it was at TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, tennis player VENUS WILLIAMS was in attendance.

The film's original score was composed by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and composer Atticus Ross.

For the filming preparation, Zendaya, Faist and O’Connor spent months training with pro tennis player coach Brad Gilbert. The cinematographer was Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and Jonathan Anderson was the costume designer. Filming was wrapped in 2022. Zendaya has also been one of the producers of the movie.

Zendaya plays Tashi Duncan, Josh O’Connor plays Patrick Zweig, and Mike Faist plays Art Donaldson... These are our three main characters in the movie.

Finally, let’s get in more depth about the plot, and here comes my spoiler alert; ideally read the rest after watching.

We are introduced to our protagonists as they are high school best friends Patrick and Art they win the boy’s junior doubles at the US Open. They meet Tashi Duncan during the tournaments and it seems like they both immediately fall in love with her. They have a nice chat by the beach after the party. Then she goes to hang out in their room and there are the hot kiss scenes of these young people which is quite an attractive scene. The scene explores all of their attraction to one another even the repressed ones come on the surface. Tashi doesn’t give her phone number and says the winner will get her number.

Patrick wins that match and gets her number and signals with placing the ball in a certain way on his racket as a tic of Art’s. Art understands they are now together. Tashi and Art go on to play during college at Stanford University. Patrick turns professional and their long-distance relationship continues. Art makes Tashi doubt if Patrick loves her. When Patrick comes to visit they get into a fight when she tries to coach him, he says he doesn’t want her coaching. Right after the fight, Tashi suffers a terrible knee injury. She is really upset when Patrick comes back to comfort her and Art is by her side. Tashi can’t pursue her tennis career.

Tashi and Art end up getting married and having a kid together. Art becomes a top professional tennis player and they live a good life. Patrick isn’t having it so well.

Patrick clearly has some financial troubles, he can’t even afford a hotel room and sleeps in his car but he is decisive to attend the tournament. Art is also going through some physical and emotional challenges which is affecting their marriage. Patrick secretly asks Tashi to coach her but she gets real upset. Tashi tells Art if he loses she will leave him but she says that to motivate him. Tashi secretly meets Patrick and asks him to lose the game to have Art’s career and friendship. They have a hot moment. These scenes are really well done once again with stormy weather, and papers flying in the air, showing their passion for one another.

In the final scene, although Patrick refuses the call at first he gives in and very obviously loses on purpose. In the final moments of the tennis match two friends who grew apart for years, make up with a hug over the net, Tashi smiles and looks happy with this renewing friendship. We, as the audience, are happy too. All characters are likeable and we do want to see them happy. Patrick’s sacrifice both for his love and friendship makes us respect him more. They all do something for the love and friendship they have for one another.

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