Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Challengers (2024)

This week Novax Dojovic has accepted a wild card to play in a comparatively minor tournament ahead of Roland Garros, presumably in the hope that he will learn how to win again on time for the upcoming Slam. He might even have had a potentially second round re-encounter with Andy Murray had not the latter contrived to lose in his opening match.

So, life imitates art, just a little bit, though there's no hint of any ménage à trois in the coverage I have seen. 

Maybe the problem I had with Challengers (beyond knowing a bit too much about professional tennis) is encapsulated by this image, which reminded me immediately of Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También, along with the fact that it handles a similar situation so much better. 


Zendaya, fresh from being the best thing in Dune Part II overcompensates a bit by being the 'meh' of Guadagnino's movie. 

Part of the problem is that the natural tendency of her features to resolve at rest into a kind of grimace (cara de huelepedo as they might say around here), really rather ideal for her role on Arrakis, is less appealing here as the aura of a supposedly universal love object. 

She convinces most as the younger, on court, ball-bashing version of Tashi, but far less so I think as the thirty-something 'MILF' of the more contemporary scenes.



That said, I didn't find any of them believable as players and at each of the key moments of their relationships something seemed to have gone missing in what was otherwise a heady mix. 

It's possible that Zendaya has been comparatively let down by the dialogue, scripted by Justin Kuritzkes, the real life version of the husband in Celine Song's Past Lives, that other notable cinematic love triangle of the past twelve months.

She might be movie's poster 'star', but I was left with the impression that both the writer and the director were more interested in the two boys. Again contrast Cuarón's classic in which Luisa's withheld inner torment is very much part of the trio-dynamic. Here Tashi's injury comes after the bond has formed and the story is really about as interested in the psychological impact of it as it is in her status as a working mother.


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