Gently prodding men’s insecurities and weaknesses, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier offers a sardonic look at the games men play.
Funny Gamesby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
With not a single woman in sight for its 99-minute duration, you might think Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier was made to break the Bechdel test – with its story of six men engaged in a contest to see who is the ‘Best Man in General’. They call their (off-screen) wives, have their bloods tested, participate in cleaning and stone-skimming competitions and scribble down scores for each other in their ever present notebooks. And it’s a competitiveness that never stops, as everything is judged from their sleeping posture to their kindness and respect towards others – where burps, wearing shoes indoors and careless jet-skiing are outlawed. Even the members’ members must be measured – of course – and taken into consideration. Although surprisingly, there’s not much talk of either jobs nor money! And with no concluding judgement offered, Chevalier pushes male competition out into everyday life, as the men return to their daily lives and the kitchen staff start their own contest. It’s a curiously ambivalent portrait of men – both fraternal and supportive, yet slowly descending into a frenzy of backbiting and bickering. And in offering a broad spectrum of men – from young and toned Christos (Sakis Rouvas) to lily-livered, chubby Giannis (Efthymis Papadimitriou) or older, shaggy Josef (Vangelis Mourikis) – Tsangari’s film appears to put all men in the same boat. Yet a fascinating and intriguing look at the competitive sex through one woman’s eyes, Chevalier offers a hilarious at man’s foibles.
Chevalier is now showing at the London Film Festival