A group of six men are spending time on a luxury yacht together, on a fishing trip. They like to play games, enjoying the opportunity to display their masculine talents and skills to each other. Each of them likes to think of themselves as the better man.
So when the suggestion comes up for a new game, to determine “who’s the best in general”, they agree to spend the rest of their trip comparing everything, from the way someone sleeps to how they eat, to how they speak or look at each other, and give a rating that, when tallied up, will show which of them is ‘the best’. That’s Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier.
Tsangari is a Greek filmmaker whose 2010 film Attenberg was nominated as Greece’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards. Chevalier is her third feature, winning Best Film in competition at the BFI London Film Festival last year and also this year’s Greek entry for the 89th Academy Awards.
This being an exclusively male-dominated film, it’s intriguing that it is directed by a woman, though one could argue only a woman is able to handle the issue of observing male bravado without accusation of falling into it herself.
Having Tsangari at the helm is certainly one of this film’s greatest strengths. A deadpan sense of humour accompanies what could otherwise have been an aggravating experience watching a group of men being, well… men. The film isn’t afraid either of exploring the crude conversations and language that men use in the absence of women – this is a director who knows men perhaps even better than they do, including those moments in private when they feel no one is looking. Chevalier willingly and freely throws political correctness out the window to make its point.
The result is a film that is equally hilarious and insightful in its portrayal of modern day masculinity. Some may even feel embarrassment at its unnerving accuracy.
A strong cast helps of course, and each of them brings unique qualities to the film. This includes Sakis Rouvas, perhaps the best known of everyone involved, who represented Greece at the 2009 Eurovision song contest and is considered one of Greece’s top stars. There’s also an unforgettable rendition of Minnie Riperton’s Loving You – though not from Rouvas – in what may be the film’s best scene, and the high point of its lean soundtrack.
Chevalier is one of the standout hits of the year; not only that, but its international trailer is also one of my favourites this year, and I’m going to put it below. If I haven’t sold you on this film yet, I think that will.
9 / 10