College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 25
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 24
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 25
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 24

Ready, Set, Match: “Challengers” Takes the Summer By Storm

Luca Guadagnino’s film is fun and competitive, masterfully executing all the factors needed to make a successful sports drama.
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Tennis pros across the country will be booked and busy with new students because of this summer’s release of the new, dynamic sports film “Challengers.” Director Luca Guadagnino maximizes a star-studded cast amongst a fantastic musical score and stylistic shots, creating a fun and flirty movie with the right amount of psychological maneuvering. It will be the movie of the summer.

The story focuses on three characters: Tashi (Zendaya), Patrick (Josh O’Connor) and Art (Mike Faist). Patrick and Mike grew up together and have an extremely strong friendship that borders on homoerotic more than once. They meet Tashi at a Junior’s competition and both are immediately attracted to her, asking her to come to their hotel room. The night culminates with an almost threesome, with Tashi promising to give her number to the winner of the men’s bracket.

The two men attempt to gain Tashi’s affection throughout the years, despite her coaching and marrying Art after she sustains a career-ending injury. She molds Art into a world-class tennis champion who is losing motivation to win. Patrick, on the other hand, is barely scraping by but still carries out flirtations with Tashi. However, the trio meet again at a Challengers tournament, a lower-level league, and battle out who is the winner after all.

The story flits between the years of youthful tennis hopefuls to already fated athletes, focusing on the characters’ intersections in between. It is similar to the game itself, a jumbled and chaotic back and forth between the tennis superstars. And while the story is set around a trio, make no mistake that the film works in pairs. The boys, Tashi and Patrick, then Tashi and Art. As Tashi states, tennis is about the relationship between the players on the court rather than the game itself. It is a psychological battle to get your opponent to do your bidding, on and off the court.

The game is all about observance. We see this prominently in the scene where Art asks Tashi to be his coach. He sits back and lets her unrest and boredom encourage her to accept this position. The same goes for when Art and Patrick are in the sauna and both engage in this competition for power, using barbs and body language to assert their dominance. The relationships between the three are all about reading their tics and their desires. It is almost voyeuristic. The characters are watching each other, and the viewer is watching them.

The use of an incredibly strong synth soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross propels the movie forward and adds to the engagement of the viewer. The song played during the final match is particularly nail-biting in its effectiveness as we wait to see who wins. Tashi is not the only one waiting in anticipation.

Overall, Guadagnino delivers an interesting look into the social dynamics of relationships and sexuality through the viewpoint of the tennis court. Each viewer will probably root for their own player to win above the rest, bringing out a competitive side in us all. Surely the film will inspire its viewers to hit the courts and perhaps play their own matches with its soundtrack in the background. After all, we are all addicted to the game.

 

4/5

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