A group of men is returning from a winter fishing trip on a yacht. When a mechanical problem leaves them trapped on their boat, somewhere in the gulf of Saronikos, they will kill their time playing a game they devise called Chevalier.
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Tsangari gives us an absurdist but telling examination of machismo, male posturing and the antagonism of the male competitive spirit. Co-written with Efthimis Filippou (The Lobster) this reps another example of the new Greek cinema and its' willingness to push boundaries and societal norms.
Although we men (I barely feel this category accepts to integrate me, or that I would chose to belong to it) are probably all too aware of competitive domains of fellowship, I am pleased that it is a female director who explicates the dynamics of such business in Chevalier. Because it is wry and bemused and a little almost like sorta a speculative fiction type deal. I don't understand these men, but I know them.
0. The absolute degree of contemporary disgust, made of a supposed critical and playful comment on the pathetic and the human but that by the staging and formal options identifies, combines and confuses itself with the assumed criticism, becoming an exponentiation of a lifting gesture of stupidity. A mighty dishonesty.
Similarly to the new Lanthimos, former elements in past Tsangari movies exist now in a superficial way of neglecting a common, universal sense of image and language. What is casual, insignificant, is elevated at the rank of TV shows intimate revelations with a repugnant sense for the road movies catch phrasing humor.
Although Tsangari shows a very playful take on manhood and the burden of being an alpha male - taking us through a really funny trip (and game), at the same time she does not seem to know where to lead the plot. This is Chevalier: a well directed film that provokes with stunning images and delight us with a compelling cast. But when it comes to the climax, it's hushed and incomplete. I wanted more.
If you love dry humor, this is a good choice. It's funny because it's true. It's about how men communicate with each other through competition. It becomes even more difficult if it's your loved one. Of course it's a generalization, just as women's preferred method of communication is sharing. If you're at a party and a guy asks you where you went to school, it's because he wants you to ask him, so he can one-up you.
While I absolutely love the dramatic execution of this study on the idea of validation, competitiveness and ultimate self worth the film really falls down in the pacing. The many missed opportunities where variety in the level of humour and absurdity would otherwise have made for a riveting watch instead feel oddly detached and dull. 3 stars