Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari delivers a diverting yet ultimately toothless look at the games men play
Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari’s follow-up to her 2010 feature Attenberg trains a similar spotlight on the idiosyncrasies of human nature, albeit in a far less interesting way. While her previous film expertly dismantled traditional notions of femininity and adolescence through the oddball experiences of a teenage girl, Chevalier’s focus on a group of emotionally stunted adult men is rather more blunt-edged and conventional.
Said men are a group of friends enjoying a fishing trip aboard a luxury yacht, who decide to play a game (the film’s title alluding to the gaudy ring presented to the winner) to determine who is the best of them... at everything. As such, every minute detail of their physical and emotional selves becomes open to scrutiny, from who is the more serene sleeper to who has the largest appendage.
The screenplay, by Tsangari and co-writer Efthymis Filippou (who also penned other idiosyncratic Greek hits Dogtooth, Alps and The Lobster) is initially full of potential, both dramatic and comedic. It feels as if the interaction of these men – purportedly friends but also increasingly fierce rivals in claustrophobic quarters – could lend itself either to all-out humour or something rather more dark. Much fun is poked at the rampant egotism of these men, yet there’s also a more sinister aspect to their one-upmanship fuelled by a history of professional and love rivalry that’s glimpsed through snatches of conversation and phone calls to the unsuspecing women back home.
Sadly, these intriguing relationships, some of which have definite homoerotic undertones, are too underexplored to lend any substantial weight to the on-screen proceedings, and any psychological intensity is well and truly diluted by the overbearing juvenility. Watching these men engage in one foolish game after another is at first mildly amusing then quickly dull and, by the time we get to the literal dick-measuring contest, Chevalier has become just another diverting yet toothless snapshot of the male experience.
Limited release from Fri 22 Jul.