Challengers Aced All of My Expectations

Released on April 26th, Challengers, a two hour dramatic masterpiece about tennis, love, and much more, holds its viewers captive, and leaves them raving. As a tennis player, this movie captivated me from the first time I saw the previews in January, and it surpassed all of my expectations beautifully.  

The director of Challengers, Luca Guadagnino, is an Italian film director who has also directed Call Me by Your Name, Bones and All, and many others. His directing trademarks include emotionally complex characters, sumptuous visuals, and intuitive shots, all of which are included in Challengers. 

The movie opens with a tennis match between Art (played by Mike Faist) and Patrick (played by Josh O’Connor), at what seems to be a low-stakes recreational tournament. However, as the movie continues, we are plunged back in time to when Art and Patrick were teenage doubles partners, and Tashi (played by Zendaya) was a rising tennis star, before her career-ending injury, leading her to become Art’s coach and wife. Throughout the movie, the scenes switch from the past to the present, which builds suspense and deepens the story. 

Tashi Duncan, the fiery and passionate female lead, often plays the controlling role throughout the movie, making deals with Patrick, and deciding how Art plays. As for the men, Patrick plays the competitive and charming counterpart to Art’s kind and awkward character. The opposing personalities of both men led to a perfect love triangle. At times, it was hard to tell who was in love with who, which kept the viewer on their seats and interested throughout the whole movie. Both Patrick and Art often insert themselves into each other’s relationships with Tashi, and even after seeing the movie twice, it is difficult to decide which one Tashi loves more, or if she actually loves either of them. 

The score, or soundtrack, of the movie was also extraordinary. Trent Rezner and Atticus Ross, the composers, put together a soundtrack that is upbeat, electronic, and a perfect fit for the movie. The Washington Post called the soundtrack, “one of [Reznor and Ross’s] best to date.” A Vulture article specifically about the score said, “The humming, synth-y beat of that score gave the movie its sense of urgency and excitement,” which I wholeheartedly agree with. 

I think that everything about this movie, from the acting, to the visuals, to the score, is fantastic. This is a lighthearted film. With its upbeat music and vivid scenes, Challengers invokes a feeling of happiness and excitement in its viewers. Personally, it made me want to get up and play some tennis. 

And while the tennis ball itself was CGI, the actors all shot the tennis scenes without stunt doubles, which is always very impressive. Even with a CGI tennis ball, the scenes were very realistic and perfectly mirrored the matches of Wimbleton, the US Open, and even our own Varsity tennis team. 

Weeks after its release, fans, both new and returning, have been flocking to the movie theaters to see Challengers. I personally have seen the movie twice already, and would see it again if given the opportunity. However, my wallet might appreciate it if I waited a couple more months to see it again, when it comes out on Prime Video. 

The timing of this movie could not have been better. With Wimbledon, the French Open, the Olympics, and the US Open all occurring this summer, there has never been a better time to get people excited about professional tennis. Even if Challengers isn’t your cup of tea, I strongly encourage everyone to tune into these major tennis tournaments this summer. 

Challengers is a great movie, and a must watch for anybody who likes suspense, drama, action, or sports. 

Image Source: Wikipedia 

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