The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

Game, Set, Match: “Challengers” Smashes Expectations

Photo from https://www.mgm.com/movies/mgmcom46-challengers, used with permission under fair use.
Photo from https://www.mgm.com/movies/mgmcom46-challengers, used with permission under fair use.

Guadagnino’s “Challengers” serves up an electrifying mix of raw emotion and fierce competition that will keep you on the edge of your seat. With incredible acting from a talented and experienced cast, the film explores love and rivalry, keeping audiences hooked from start to finish.

The film focuses on Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) and Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) in a complex love triangle. The film is ingeniously structured like a tennis match; Duncan is the ball, while Donaldson and Zweig are the rackets competing in what seems like a never-ending back-and-forth. 

From the first shot of the tennis court to the final scene, Guadagnino skillfully brings the story full circle. Repeating elements such as Donaldson’s serves and Duncan’s moves emphasize the repetitive nature of their relationships and goals. Even before the film’s release, the trailer uses the song “Maneater” by Nelly Furtado to hint at Duncan’s dominance over the two boys, setting a tense atmosphere.

The use of music in “Challengers” is as strategic as the gameplay. The music stops whenever Duncan speaks, highlighting her psychological control over Donaldson and Zweig. This approach centers the audience on Duncan, making her the story’s focal point.

Symbolism is apparent throughout the film. The triangle-shaped camera movements and the stormy weather preceding the final match serve to heighten the tension and foreshadow the emotional storm. The brand placements, strategic montages and visual motifs such as Donaldson’s put-together outfits versus Zweig’s casual outfits further outline the contrast between the competitors — both on and off the court.

The characters’ qualities are carefully revealed. Duncan’s rare moments of vulnerability come out during her deep personal struggles, like her breakdown under the tree. Donaldson changes from what seems like harmless to slightly “evil,” as shown by his first appearance in light-toned clothing to dark and red clothes once he begins toying with Duncan and Zweig’s relationship, and Zweig’s journey from resistance to dependence upon Duncan’s coaching, reveals the depth of their character.

The movie’s ending is as exciting as any match final, ending with a point about personal wins and tennis. The final hug between Donaldson and Zweig, mid-match, shows making peace, and growth, and Duncan finally sees her dream come true. She found the real passion for tennis she was seeking from the start.

Overall, “Challengers” is worth the watch because of its engaging storyline and well-developed characters. The film takes you on a journey through the lives and struggles of its main characters, each with their own unique challenges and growth arcs. The intense emotional moments, drama, action and character development make it 100 percent worth the watch.

by ALEXIS DASHNYAM

More to Discover