Challengers Review

Saturday 27 April 2024

Plot: Tashi, a former tennis prodigy turned coach, turned her husband into a champion. But to overcome a losing streak, he needs to face his ex-best friend and Tashi's ex-boyfriend.

Film: Challengers

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Writer: Justin Kuritzkes

Starring: Zendaya, Mike Faist, Josh O'Connor

Challengers sees Luca Guadagnino throw hot people onto a tennis court to metaphorically, and actually quite literally at times, fight for each other’s attention.

Zendaya as Tashi Duncan commands every scene she finds herself in. After an injury prevents her from becoming a tennis pro, she ensures that never again is a decision made in her life without her say so, this includes the decisions made by husband, Art (played by Mike Faist), whom she has coached into the sort tennis player he never thought he’d be. She’s fiery and dominant and everyone around her is helpless to do anything but seek her affection, which is why even a decade later, Patrick (Played by Josh O’Connor) can’t stop himself from pushing his way back into Tashi’s, and Art’s, life. 

The chemistry doesn’t end between Tashi and her ‘little white boys’, in fact those ‘little white boys’ have even greater chemistry with each other when they’re willing to indulge in each others company. Art and Patrick begin as doubles partners, ‘Fire and Ice’ and they are as perfect a pair as their yin and yang-esque name would imply. Their friendship is effortless and to the viewer there’s a very obviously blurred line between platonic and romantic attraction, especially on Patrick’s side, in which you are more surprised that they don’t have a physical relationship than if we were told they do. This makes the rivalry that develops around Tashi all the more tense.

The camera work is dreamy, all the close up shots of sweat-soaked brows and tense muscles, the techno-infused film score, designed to get your heart racing, the whole film exudes sex, perhaps even more so when sex isn’t what’s happening on the screen. Tennis is objectively a very erotic sport as it is, Luca Guadagnino really capitalises on this at every opportunity.

Challengers is a viciously sexy exploration of relationships and ambition that is equally all about tennis and not at all a sports film. This film is an irresistibly exciting adrenaline rush and a heartfelt character exploration all in one. You will feel the tension in your bones long after the credits role.

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