Who will win the Chevalier ring? This question drives the men of Athina Rachel Tsangari’s latest feature to extreme actions. This is the good the bad and the ugly for ordinary people. The stoy follows a group of men on holiday on their yacht around the Aegean Sea. All is perfect sailing until they decide to hold a competition to determine who the best at everything is – the prize is an ego boost and the chevalier ring. The film bursts with testosterone-filled angst, it would have failed the Bechdel test. Tsangari’s lens delves beneath the perfect veneer of her characters, under their mature skin to reveal the childish and primal instincts lurking beneath. Chevalier teeters on the edge of everything: a bit of homo-eroticism here, thriller there, but it refuses to be categorised.
The drama is tense but there are moments of light relief, which often come in the form of the absurd, such as when Dimitris (Makis Papadimitriou) lip-syncs a song with his brother dancing in the background with fireworks. Or when Josef (Vangelis Mourikis) proudly displays his erection to the doctor. It is a male film seen through the eyes of a female, who interrogates the male world with her camera. The camera revels in the landscape, moving with the waves to evoke the nauseating boundlessness of the sea, whilst at other times scanning almost every detail of the yacht, defining its boundaries in the minds of the viewer. The small space, the small cast and the observation central to the game means the viewer becomes well acquainted with all of the traits and flaws of the characters. But Chevalier remains impersonal and Tsangari does not steer us towards any person in particular: is an exercise in proving no one is or can ever be perfect and it mocks these men who think they can be.
The soundtrack moves the film away from the realm of gritty realism into the absurd, with throbbing EDM matching the tense and pumped-up heartbeats of the characters while also creating a ticking clock. This movie does not focus so much on who will win, it asks who can win.
Chevalier is released in selected cinemas on 22nd July 2016.
Watch the trailer for Chevalier here: