Movies Reviews

Zendaya’s new film serves, volleys and conquers

From the official Facebook page for Challengers.

Dublin, IRELAND – Never would I have considered myself a sports movie fan, particularly not for something as elitest as tennis. But Zendaya took center stage in Challengers, the newest film to smash the box office this past weekend, alongside co-stars Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor, directed by Luca Guadagnino, known for Call Me By Your Name.

I felt compelled to at least give it a watch.

The sports drama follows Art Donaldson (Faist) and Patrick Zweig (O’Connor), two best friends and tennis champions, as they meet and quickly fall for tennis prodigy, Tashi Donaldson (Zendaya).

As the three lives intertwine in a simultaneously chaotic and steamy relationship, the story sees each character develop into their own complex personality, making mistakes and showing their flaws to the audience in a way that somehow leaves you still rooting for them after the credits have stopped rolling.

Seen through a narrative that constantly flips between past and present, the movie plays out like a tennis match itself, a rollercoaster forever in motion so we as an audience can never really grab the chance to catch our breath.

The chemistry between all three leads was as phenomenal and intense as it was completely natural, and it was clear to me just how well each actor knew the other two. It approached sexuality and gender fluidity in a way that really hasn’t been done that much in sports dramas before, especially not for sports as precise, yet powerful, as tennis.

In a word, the movie was simply masterful in its storytelling, its cinematography, and the pure talent demonstrated by the actors.

Challengers set a new level for sports movies everywhere, smashing already-high expectations through the roof. It deserves every bit of praise that’s coming its way from critics, sports fanatics, and movie-goers alike.

It would feel like a crime to not give a nod to the soundtrack, as it was unlike anything I’d ever heard in a movie before. There were synthesizers, choirs of children, hip hop vibes, and just general awe-factor from start to finish.

It proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s not always about the special effects or costume design when it comes to creating a spectacle – often a simply flawless screenplay is all it takes.

Filled to boiling point with drama, steamy romance, and a soundtrack as epic as its gripping tension, Challengers was a film that put me on the edge of my seat from the first shot and kept me firmly rooted there until the final volley.

Vivien Nesbitt is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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