Challengers – REVIEW

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Challengers - Zendaya in a tennis love triangle - New balls please?

We would be the first to admit that we’re not the biggest of tennis fans and the thought of watching balls being batted back and fore would surely only spike the interest of the late Formula 1 and S&M enthusiast Max Mosely. But Challengers has a lot going for it starting with Zendaya as Tashi a former rising tennis star on the circuit now turned coach to her client Art (Mike Faist) who also happens to be her husband and the film opens  with Art at match point against Patrick (Josh O’Connir). The significance of his opponent is only made clear in the films many and often extended flashbacks because the pair have a history.

Art and Patrick were a duo who played the tennis circuit both as doubles and singles and its where they first meet Tashi and both vie for her attention which culminates in a three way. It’s the start of constant infidelities on all their parts as the film flits back and fore in time in exhilarating and engrossing style as it builds towards that match point opener. That it has got to this level for both Art And Patrick is because Art has lost his tennis mojo and it is Tashi’s idea for him to compete and win an inferior tennis tournament in the hope that it will help him regain his confidence except they don’t expect to come up against Patrick who has squandered his talent, wasted his money, lives out of a car and picking up women at tournaments so that he has somewhere to stay. What follows is a love (and often hate) triangle with the tennis and many of the scenes set against a dynamic Hi-NRG score from Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross whose film scores are always impressive having provided them for many of David Fincher’s films.

The trio of actors are at the top of their game and director Luca Guadagnino is back on form after the understandably poorly received cannibal movie, ‘Bones and All’. His use of rewinding and fast forwarding the trios stories by weeks or even years reveal a whole host of back story that becomes increasingly relevant in the trios twisted lives. If there’s one complaint it’s that like so many of his films, Challengers is a little overlong (and there’s an enormous amount of product placement) and the ending is something of a cop out but that aside Challengers is an engaging drama, brilliantly shot and well cast making it game, set and match on all counts.

related feature : ‘Bones and All’ reviewed

related feature : Writer/Director Barney Douglas talks McEnroe his explosive documentary about the tennis legend

Here’s the Challengers trailer……

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