The second most interesting narrative this year about power, (after Game of Thrones, natch), Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier is fascinating for as much what it includes as what it doesn’t offer. This list includes women, (yup, there are only males in this title), first names, backstories, a sense of what is really happening…
The film is definitely not going to appeal to those seeking a pat narrative. To the rest of the filmgoing community, Chevalier offers coal black wit, gorgeous Grecian scenery, a compelling Karaoke performance of Loving You, an incredible end view, a muted colour palette, (mainly blues), and one of the more interesting conversation pieces that you will see this year, (bring a date, or a best friend).
Despite a title that seems to refer to horseplay, there are no equines in the film, (the signet ring is the titular Chevalier), and the men on the boat, some related, others not, all fortunate financially compete in a series of activities to obtain the ring (which may or may not be to “rule them all”). Interestingly, the prize is so small and insignificant, the film seems to suggest that the wealthy are competing solely for the sake of competition, (and because the stakes are high).
The lengths to which the characters strive are revealed through a sense of absurdity that comes to a halt in a shocking way, leading to the spectacular final shot, (hint, the boat is the vessel on which much of the action takes place).
There is a sense of incompleteness in the film, (which is no fault of the filmmaker’s, as it looks and sounds beautiful). What is missing is the sense of jumping in to the fray along with the men of the film. There is not a sense of remove so much as a feeling of the audience leaving it to themselves to finish the discussion. Never did a feature seem so much like an appetizer, an amuse, to a larger conversation that becomes the main course and the dessert. But that’s a horseman of a different colour.