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The Talon

The student news site of Atascocita High School

The Talon

The student news site of Atascocita High School

The Talon

“Challengers”: A Tennis Movie That’s Not Really a Tennis Movie


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The game of tennis does not capture the attention of the mass majority of people, but Luca Guadagnino’s highly anticipated film, “Challengers,” sheds a light on the sport to general audiences. The film was originally set to release in September 2023, however due to the SAG-AFTRA writers strikes, it was released in late April.

If I could describe the film in one word, it would be intense. Between the dynamic camera shots, outstanding performances from the cast, and the electrifying soundtrack, “Challengers” is a highly engaging movie that showcases the depravity behind one’s passions.

The premise of the movie revolves around the relationships between Tashi (Zendaya), Art (Mike Faist) and Patrick (Josh O’Connor), as the three tennis aficionados struggle to maintain a healthy dynamic on and off court. Both Art and Patrick, who have been attached at the hip since childhood, pine after Tashi, who takes advantage of the attention that both of them give her. The narrative of the film is told through flashbacks, while the entirety of the movie takes place within a single tennis match. This form of storytelling offered a unique perspective within the psyches of the characters. 

The trailer definitely makes the movie out to be more provocative than it actually is. That being said, I’d maybe opt out of seeing this movie with my parents, as there are a couple of scenes that might be uncomfortable to watch around them. Guadagnino, known for “Call Me by Your Name” and “Bones and All,” is masterful in his ability to depict passion, betrayal, and obsession on screen. And this film encompasses all of the above. 

Although the movie’s focus is about tennis, in watching, it becomes apparent that it’s not really about tennis. The sport is used to depict the toxicity that arises in the trio’s relationship. When it comes to Tashi, she’s a D1 manipulator. Every breathing moment of her life revolves around tennis, while both Art and Patrick are willing to put her before the sport and even before each other. 

Besides the plot, the movie’s also visually and aesthetically pleasing to watch. The camera work in the final scene is by far some of the most captivating cinematography I’ve seen in a while. It’s Art and Patrick battling each other in a low level challenger match, and yet, the stakes are the highest they’ve ever been for the two of them, and the level of anxiety is felt by the audience as well. The camerawork highlighted the sweat so prominently that I felt like I was sweating with them. The perspective in which the tennis game was shot was also really engaging and the angles made it feel like you weren’t just watching them play, but you were playing on the court yourself. At one point the camera perspective changes to the point of view of the tennis ball as it’s being aggressively punted back and forth.

The actors, who underwent months of tennis training to mimic the mannerisms of pros, sell themselves extremely well. The scene where Tashi tears her ACL made me sit up straight from how jarring Zendaya’s agonizing screams were. 

The soundtrack of “Challengers” is just as charming as the camerawork. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the frontmen of Nine Inch Nails, came together to compose the music for the film. Electronic beats and techno music blast throughout the movie, especially between heated dialogue. The contrast between the characters’ actions and the EDM music playing in the background works perfectly to highlight the chaos that ensues within Tashi, Art, and Patrick’s love triangle. That being said, I did giggle a little each time characters would be arguing and club-esque music promptly started playing.

Tennis may not be a sport that attracts everyone, but “Challengers” surely is a film that will keep your attention until the very end. If you don’t watch “Challengers” for its unhinged drama and jaw dropping scenes, then watch it for Zendaya’s voluptuous bob. Seriously, it’s a “challenge” just to look away. 

I give “Challengers” a 4.5/5 stars.

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About the Contributor
Maria Rodriguez
Maria Rodriguez, Writer
This is Maria Rodriguez's second year on the newspaper and yearbook staff. She enjoys writing feature stories. Along with these, Maria also plays tennis. In her free time she likes to read, crochet, and watch movies. Maria adores her cat, Sol.

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