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Challengers review: never two without three

© Warner Bros.

This is definitely the cinematic release of the moment. Challengers is the new film by Luca Guadagino, the director of Call me by your name and Bones and All, with Zendaya (Euphoria ; Dune), Josh O'Connor (The Crown) and Mike Faist (West Side Story) headlining. Suffice to say that this new feature film has some good cards in hand. You still need to know how to use it.

After several sultry and intense trailers, Challengers tickles the curiosity of many people. We are the first. This Wednesday, April 24, 2024 marks (finally) the release of the film which combines tennis and a love triangle. Here's what we thought of Challengers.

A synopsis far from simple

Whether you're a clay court fan or not, Challengers manages to make us want to set foot on a tennis court. Who would have believed it ? A passion for tennis is the backdrop to Luca Guadignino's new feature film. While the famous tennis player Art Donaldson, a champion in decline, must face his former best friend, Patrick Zweig, during a low-level tournament, the past resurfaces.

The 30-year-old is coached by his wife, Tashi Duncan, a former player who had to abandon her hopes of a professional career after a serious knee injury years earlier. This match is crucial in the careers of both players, and allows them to delve into their past. For better and for worse. Back when they were still best friends, they both fell under the spell of the captivating and talented Tashi.

Challengers takes place over several years and offers us trips back and forth between the past and the present. Between several balls exchanged during the fateful match between the two male protagonists, we find ourselves projected 13 years earlier, 8 years earlier and even a few weeks before.

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The feature film benefits from complex, almost sprawling and formidably intelligent writing. For a little over two hours, screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes succeeds in raising the tension to the apotheosis and conclusion of the match which opened this breach in the past. We find ourselves holding our breath until the final moments of the feature film, despite ourselves.

The three protagonists are all particularly well written, passionate, multidimensional, with several layers. A real treat for the viewer! We all understand them, although their decisions or their ways of acting make us frown sometimes.

Love triangle, that rhymes with voluptuous and sulphurous. The tension of the feature film also comes through the sexual tension between the three characters. And we say “the three characters”. Because, for once, we have the right to a real love triangle.

Winning Achievement

Luca Guadagnino has the soul of an adventurer. With Challengers, the director does not hesitate to think outside the box. Thus, the feature film offers us several extremely well thought-out scenes which reinforce their intensity and contribute to our sensation of having the breath cut throughout its duration.

Challengers review: never two without three

© Warner Bros.

Overall, Luca Guadagnino’s direction won us over. Most of the filmmaker's ideas are bold and original. However, the director overused slow motion scenes, for an understandable stylistic effect. In our opinion, this weighs down the feature film, which clearly did not need it.

Visually, Challengers is a joy. The aesthetics of the film, like its photography and its costumes, tickle our retinas. Which allows us to delve even further into the sulfurous adventure of the three protagonists.

Acting, set and match

Like the expression “game, set and match”, Tashi, Art and Patrick do not go without each other. When you play a love triangle on screen, the chemistry between the actors is essential. Good news: the complicity of Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor bursts onto the screen. We can't escape it. This harmony between the actors makes their characters even more credible and endearing and validates this interconnection between them. Because it is this interconnection which is the heart of the footage.

It's certain, Challengers should help take off the careers of Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist, and establish dominance of Zendaya all over Hollywood. All three actors are excellent and all managed to bring these complex, multi-faceted characters to life. They each have a kind of ferocity in their eyes and offer performances that stand out.

Challengers review: never two without three

© Warner Bros.

An inhibiting soundtrack

Everyone knows: when we play sports, our brain secretes hormones such as endorphin, dopamine or adrenaline. It gives us a feeling of well-being and can be like a drug for some. The soundtrack of Challengers is powerful and it takes up all the space. Enough to accentuate this feeling of suffocation. An intense soundtrack for an intense film and intense characters. Nothing's easier. Thus, the film's music was entrusted to the care of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network; Bones and All ; Gone girl). Deeply dynamic and overwhelming, the soundtrack of Challengers fits perfectly with the atmosphere and energy of the footage.

During the feature film's press conference, Luca Guadagnino confirmed that he wanted to give spectators the feeling of being in a rave-party< /em>, without the need to take magic pills. Mission accomplished with this soundtrack which stands out as the icing on the cake of Challengers.

Challengers: heart smash

After Call me by your name and Bones and All, Luca Guadagino continues to see things big. For his new feature film, the filmmaker has put all the chances on his side to make an impression. Between a fearsomely gripping storyline, very talented and fashionable actors, an intoxicating soundtrack and daring staging, Challengers wins the match ball. Whether you're a tennis fan or not, it ultimately doesn't matter.

@pressecitronWe saw Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, Mike Faist and Luca Guadagnino! 🎾 #challengers #zendaya

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116