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The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

[OFF-SCREEN WITH OSTREM] Challengers’ excellent acting and cinematography provides intense viewer experience

MGM Studios
ACTRESS. Zendaya is outstanding in her leading role, embodying the films messages and themes in one character.

Challengers is a new sports-romance film from Call Me By Your Name and Bones and All director Luca Guadagnino. The film focuses on the love triangle between Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor), and Art Donaldson (Mike Faist). The central character, Tashi, is a former tennis prodigy who suffered a career-ending knee injury. Patrick and Art are a star tennis duo nicknamed “Fire and Ice.” They meet Tashi in their senior year of high school and both fall in love with her. Throughout the rest of the film, she uses their love for her and her control over them to push them to be the best tennis players possible. The film tells a brilliant, character-driven story centering around the power of sexuality and love, the intense passion for sports, and the desire to be great. The film twists these themes together effortlessly and shows how often they can be the same.

Zendaya, coming off the major success of Dune Part Two, shines in her starring role as a controlling, genius, and borderline psychotic former tennis star. She gets the opportunity to show more range than in the past. She can show off weirder or even evil sides instead of being the perfect teenage heartthrob she usually portrays. Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist also excel in their roles. They represent their intense love in different ways while also displaying the similarities between their characters. One of the film’s highlights is seeing Partick and Art’s relationship evolve from a strong, sexual-tension-filled friendship to a cold and unfriendly relationship due to Tashi’s effect on them.

The script is flawless, with witty and engaging dialogue throughout the film that effortlessly moves the plot along.

— Peter Ostrem

In addition to the acting, the film is also incredible technically. The cinematography is some of the best the film community has seen in recent years, as Guadagnino is not afraid to experiment with the camera. There are countless creative and exciting shots that are hard to find in other films, including POVs of the characters as they play tennis, the camera being the tennis ball itself, and shots beneath the tennis court. The score is also phenomenal, with a constant, pulsating house style occupying most of the sexual or tennis scenes, with softer violin music for the more tender scenes.

Moreover, the script is flawless, with witty and engaging dialogue throughout the film that effortlessly moves the plot along. Every scene and every conversation between the titular characters leaves the viewer on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. Although the story is relatively simple, with only three true characters, it showcases deep and complex emotions. The editing is also incredible and unique, telling the otherwise simplistic story non-linearly. The film bounces between different times of the character’s lives but makes it feel cohesive and seamless.

Challengers is a brilliant and unique romance film that is oozing with style. The film features phenomenal performances, cinematography, scoring, and editing. The viewing experience for this film is incredible, and viewers should jump at the opportunity to see it.

Rating: ★★★★½

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About the Contributor
Peter Ostrem
Peter Ostrem, A&E Editor
My name is Peter Ostrem (he/him). I work as an Arts and Entertainment editor for The Rubicon. At school, I’m involved in football, baseball, and theater tech. I love to hike and watch movies. I can be reached at [email protected].

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