ChevalierPosted by Laurence Green
Laurence Green reviews Athina Rachel Tsangari's new Greek drama, Chevalier
I had high hopes for Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Greek drama Chevalier (released nationwide on July 22) since it won the Best Film In competition award at the 2015 BFI film festival but sadly it fails to live up to expectations.
The story follows a group of six men on holiday on their yacht around the Aegean Sea. All is perfect sailing until they decide to hold a competition to determine who is the best at everything, developing a series of tests to judge each other, such as who has the best posture when sleeping?, and applying the random criteria as they see fit. The prize is an ego boost and the chevalier ring. The competition becomes addictive, pushing the men further into conforming to chimeric ideals of taste, sexuality, class and personal achievement. Yet in these cries for external validation, each man’s flaws are writ large and the interpersonal relationships within the group warp into strange formations.
Tsangari manages to delve beneath the perfect veneer of her characters under their mature skin to reveal the childish and primal instincts lurking beneath. The script, however, is very thin, consisting for the most part on a series of less than engrossing games which fail to coalesce into a satisfactory dramatic whole. Shot in a palette of greys the film has an absurd style that makes it difficult to come to grips with. But there are compensations in some welcome flashes of humour which provide light relief, such as when Dimitris (Makis Papadimitriou) lip-syncs a song with his brother dancing in the background with fireworks, a scene which really brings the film to life, not to mention some gorgeous shots of the Aegean and the Greek islands.
Overall though, this is a shallow and impersonal movie, which is designed to prove that no one is or ever can be perfect.
Released nationwide 22 July 2016
Image by ©Despina Spyrou
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