CHEVALIER (Greece/TBC/105mins)
Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari. Starring Giannis Drakopoulos, Kostas Filippoglou, Yiorgos Kendros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis.
THE PLOT: A group of Greek fishermen, faced with the long and boring journey back to Athens, come up with a game to see who is the best among them. Named Chevalier after the Chevalier ring that is the prize, then men judge one another on absolutely everything; from the way they walk to the size of their penis, the ay they talk to their cholesterol levels.
THE VERDICT: The premise of ‘Chevalier’ is an interesting one, and one that has plenty of room for comedy and sharp observations, and although this is touched on throughout the film, the expectation that this game will ramp up into something competitive and explosive is never truly lived up to.
The cast of the film is made up of Yiorgos Kendros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis, Nikos Orphanos, Makis Papadimitriou, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos and Sakis Rouvas, and while we get to know a little about each of the characters throughout the film, none of the actors are truly given a chance to round out the characters so that they feel real. There are moments of greatness but these are swiftly undermined by the film feeling drawn out and slow.
Screenwriters Athina Rachel Tsangari and Efthymis Filippou appear to have set out to show just how ridiculous a throwaway game can get, when it is mixed with confined quarters and strong egos, but even though there are times where the film falters on the edge of drama, explosion or something more than a game to break the monotony, the drama never comes and the film feels more like it peters out, rather than ends satisfactorily.
As director Athina Rachel Tsangari keeps the first half of the film moving quickly, but as son as it becomes clear that this game is not going to divide the group, and even though each man is taking it seriously, ever really damage friendships or relationships, the energy of the entire film drops. There is a feel that there was an attempt to make Chevalier an absurd and over the top film but, apart from a scene where penis measuring becomes personal, this absurdity is never capitalised upon.
In all, ‘Chevalier’ feels rather like a wasted opportunity. Under stronger direction, this could have been a film that examined the dynamics of a group when faced with competition, but as it stands, the film is underwhelming and lacks energy.
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    The latest offering from the ‘Greek Weird Wave’ is Chevalier, which comes from Athina Rachel Tsangari, a producer on both Dogtooth and Alps. But like those films, it comes across as awkward and difficult to fully accept.

    Six men are out on a fishing holiday in the Aegean Sea, including The Doctor (Yiorgos Kendros) and Yorgos (Panos Koronis). They decide to play a game, to win the chevalier signet ring and to prove who is best in general. The game involves each man scoring all the others on their actions, behaviour, demeanour and views on life. The winner is the one with the most points. While some don’t take the game seriously, others become obsessive about it. To the point where the bonds of their friendship will be tested…

    The snazzily-edited trailer for Chevalier had a lot to live up to. In an all-too-familiar way though, it promised a lot of entertaining antics inter-cut with some amusing dares and scores. The film itself is something of a crashing bore though – presumably something that distributor Studiocanal was aware of. The Chevalier game isn’t really that important to the story anyway. If anything, it’s merely a mild distraction. The idea of the men rating each other could have been used in an entertaining fashion, like having scores pop up onscreen as in a videogame. It could also have been used a satirical study of male friendship and one-upmanship.

    Instead, Tsangari focuses on lots of middle-aged male navel-gazing and doesn’t let us into their mindset much (the scores are never revealed). Introducing a woman into the story might have really mixed things up, but oddly Tsangari and co-writer Efthymis Filippou decide not to. The film is also noticeably slow too. Despite good performances from the cast, Chevalier isn’t really all that interesting and actually has very little to say about men and how they behave around each other. There’s definitely something in Greek water though, as their recent films are off-kilter and atypical. But unlike the hilarious Men & Chicken last week, Chevalier is just weird for its own sake and not for that of the audience. This reviewer’s score: **.