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  • Hamish Hart

Challengers (2024) Review

RATING: 8.5/10

RENOWNED Italian director Luca Guadagnino returns to the silver screen with his latest tale of intrigue and romance in Challengers, a passionate love-triangle bursting with charm and upbeat earnestness that will keep audiences glued to their screens in what ended up being a constant back-and-forth sports-based relationship.

Former tennis prodigy-turned-coach Tashi Duncan (Zendaya) begins to struggle off the court when her champion husband Art (Mike Faist) goes on a losing streak. In order to seek redemption for her husband, Tashi signs Art up for the "Challenger" event - a low-level tournament designed to get struggling champions out of rough patches. But Tashi's coaching strategy takes an unexpected turn when Art finds himself across the court from Patrick (Josh O'Connor) - his former best friend and Tashi's ex-boyfriend. With her past and present lives now colliding, Tashi must decide how far she's willing to go to win it all - and who for.

Ever since his major coming-out film Call Me by Your Name, Luca Guadagnino has nearly perfected the art of compelling romance. His keen eye for subtle character development has always been a standout in his previous works, with the likes of 2017's Call Me by Your Name, 2022's Bones and All, and now 2024's Challengers, showcasing the likeable and repugnant nature of his most thought-provoking characters; a major reason as to why Guadagnino's newest endeavour is a career-highlight for the Italian native.

Headlines have described Challengers as being a steamy sports movie worth watching specifically for the threesome scenes sprinkled throughout, but this love-triangle is much more than just flagrant sex scenes. Those searching for a deep-seeded drama will find it in Challengers as our three leads - Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor - all deliver exceptional performances, playing off one another in cheeky ways as each of them attempt to achieve their own goals, whether it be professional or personal. However, it is Zendaya who steals the crown from Faist and O'Connor, standing above her co-stars as the premier actor in a movie with no weak performances. Her continuous shift in personality manages to work on so many levels as she continually struggles with the game in front of her, and the one constantly being played in her own state of mind - deciding whether to be with Art or Patrick.

One of the aspects I didn't expect to be a highlight in Challengers was its memorable, exhilarating score. Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) once again collaborate to create another memorable soundtrack; one brimming with personality and identity suited for every situation on and off the tennis court. Tracks such as The Points That Matter, "I Know", and Brutalizer all give off distinct vibes that compliment the intense feeling of playing in a tennis tournament, while also not feeling out of place during an afternoon jog or even a nightclub in the earliest hours of the morning.

Challengers is a monumental step forward for director Luca Guadagnino, managing to be an enthralling sports movie while simultaneously being a bewitching lover's quarrel between friends-turned-opponents. Guadagnino's first stride into the world of sports has turned into the director's best work to date courtesy of outstanding performances between our three leading lovers and an unforgettable score that rarely misses its mark. Those looking for a delectable love-triangle to sink their teeth into will not be disappointed by Challengers - especially when you discover all the hidden delights waiting beneath the surface-level splendours already on full display.


About Me

Hamish newsheadshot_edited.jpg

Born in Longreach in Central West Queensland, I have undertaken a number of prominent roles across the region such as Journalist and Digital Media for The Longreach Leader, as well as appearing on critically-acclaimed radio stations ABC Western Queensland and 4LG and West FM to discuss all things film.

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