Sunday, May 26, 2024

Challengers challenges

I watched quite a bit of Day 1 of the French Open. Then I went and hit around on the courts for a while.

I should have stopped with the tennis at that point.

Instead I went to see Challengers tonight, and struggled mightily to stay interested in the new hit film featuring Zendaya.

The acting is fine. But there's not enough of it. 

Zendaya and crew look impressive on the tennis courts, even if there's a chance their strokes are all CGI.

The bonkers soundtrack (and not in a good way) never fails to come ripping in and slow down the action, making the movie a good 20 minutes longer than it needs to be. 

The movie itself is a soft-porn vehicle to feature Zendaya basically in a 2-hour-plus music video.

It makes sense that the music - supplied by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails - is there to add suspense to who will win the challenge to gain Zendaya's love. But the story itself is as threadbare and vacant as Reznor's way-over-dramatic (and way in the foreground) music. And the three main characters are so unlikeable that it takes away the chance for investment in caring much about any of them.

It would make sense if I liked Challengers. Director Luca Guadagnino cites Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho as among his favorite directors and films, and I can see some of those attempts to emulate the master here. His work on 2017's Call Me By Your Name was much better than Challengers, which is closer in style to his remake of Suspiria (pro tip: see the original version, not Guadagnino's).

In the end (and especially with that lame ending), the whole thing somehow makes me a little embarassed that I love the sport of tennis so much. I need to schedule my next match to wipe the taste of Challengers out of my mouth.

1.5 out of 5 stars

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