Chevalier (aka Chevalier Athina) review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Chevalier is that rare instance where and adventure flick and character drama collide to give us what is known as the most original ‘battle of the wits’ foreign movie till date. This is to say Athina Rachel Tsangari’s product not only provides the masses with entertaining scenes where different characters put their antics to the test – it also packs enough momentum to propel this buddy comedy drama on the highest reaches among contemporary Greek cinema. Chevalier is good and it itself knows it, and the audience agrees too.
The feature starts off with six men on a boat, in a simple game of competition between them, which nevertheless escalates to a point of ‘who’s the best among the bunch’. It’s a locker room banter elevated to a whole new level: namely later involving even the stuff that happen to find themselves on the fishing boat. Soon, everything compares to everything else as Sakis Rouvas, Makis Papadimitriou, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis and Yiorgos Kendros clash their manhood in a battle that erupts in the middle of the Greek seas, with nowhere to go.
Also, the comedy aspect of it doesn’t need to remind us that is funny: rather, the various character traits resurface from said characters and give us the complete picture of who they are and why they do what they do. Initially, everyone thinks he’s the best, but as trials put their will to the test, doubt soon creeps underneath their ego and with the careful, meticulous direction of Athina Rachel Tsangari, as well as the smart screenplay by scribe Efthymis Filippou – we finally see them as they really are, and not what they think they represent.
In its core, Chevalier is not about how an individual is valued in a society – it’s rather how said society perceives the individual and what expectations are put onto his shoulders which he must fulfill in order to achieve higher status than his peers. The film’s comedic aspects come out of a careful observation of everyone’s psychology and quirks which all carry within their confined characters shells. Which is to say, they’re all fleshed out to perfection, given the circumstance they find themselves in, and all use their strongest character traits to their advantage – whether it be singing, putting together a shelf, or even withstanding of being rude toward one another.
Where Chevalier differs from other features we all came to know and love, is the acting: it feels as natural as the actors’ second lives. This is where most Hollywood pieces stumble on their toes, but not Tsangari’s feature. As everyday people, the actors are convincing enough to a point of not being recognizable when their film lives up its premiere day.
Finally, Chevalier is that ‘man flick’ for both men and women to enjoy: the former for the unsuspecting comedy and clash of character – the latter to finally understand why men act the way they do in real life.