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Critics reviews
Chevalier
Athina Rachel Tsangari Greece, 2015
The film is basically a series of brilliantly clever sketches that play with notions of self-esteem. No matter how successful these men are in the outside world, there is always a kernel of doubt, that voice that says you are a failure, a fake. Chevalier weaponizes that voice and aims it at a group of middle-aged strivers, reducing them to their worst impulses.
December 13, 2016
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This is what the Hangover crew would do on a yacht if they were wealthier and European. At the end, when they slink home, each of the men is humiliated but essentially unchanged, same as in a Hangover movie. The trouble begins when the chef and steward, now alone on the yacht, begin to play the game themselves. Tsangari adds politics where Lanthimos subtracts it.
August 12, 2016
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It’s almost as if Tsangari has stripped back the guard-shield of politesse and civility in order for her camera to catch an unvarnished, primate reality that exists just under the surface. It’s a fascinating set-up and executed with cool precision, even if it never really shifts into a second gear.
July 20, 2016
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Despite Chevalier’s clear concern with gender, its skewering of masculinity is perhaps less important than its broader social satire. Beyond its interest in dick measuring as both metaphor and literal activity, the film uses the limited setting of the yacht to stage a dark, absurdist send-up of the pathologies of 21st-century selfhood.
July 08, 2016
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Less imaginative than The Capsule—though the The Capsule is imaginative by design and due to the heavy involvement of the artist with penchant for all things dark and female—Chevalier unspools as a subversive social experiment, never short of subtly hilarious lines co-penned by Lanthimos’ regular co-writer Efthymis Filippou.
June 13, 2016
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The general feel is of a Neil LaBute play pushed into the realm of lunacy. But Tsangari is much more interested in the absurdities of language and the quasi-ritual repetition of linguistic patterns that keep her characters bounded in, safe from the absolute explosion of primitive chaos that always threatens.
May 27, 2016
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There are laughs and uncomfortable observations throughout, but Tsangari never lays on too heavy a hand. One is free to contemplate the allegorical and satirical implications, but also free to enjoy the spectacle of self-imposed insecurity that plays out among these characters. By keeping things compact, the movie honors its premise modestly but with exemplary articulation. “Chevalier” is an intelligent and dry entertainment that might also make a very telling date movie.
May 27, 2016
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The Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari devotes her attention to men’s one-upsmanship in this pompously earnest satire… Tsangari’s derisive gaze is utterly deadpan; the men maintain a sacerdotal earnestness in the face of their own absurdities, and their superficial traits are revealed and discussed at length while their character, background, and ideas go unexplored and even unmentioned.
May 27, 2016
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With its bourgeois Olympics and its closed-system setting, the devastatingly funny Chevalier lays bare the fact that while the man might leave the boys’ school, the boys’ school never quite leaves the man.
May 26, 2016
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A one-joke tale, and though it’s fun for a while to watch the shenanigans of a bunch of pre-teens with hairier bodies, the movie starts to sag around the middle as it goes around in circles documenting the endless one-upmanship.
May 26, 2016
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Despite the claustrophobic setting and Tsangari’s observational style, Chevalier doesn’t register as hermetic or coolly condescending; the film feels loose and agile even amid so much capricious rule-making. Her scrutiny of male folly and vanity never lacks for bite, but she extends sympathy to her half-dozen desperate competitors, never more so than in a scene that obliquely suggests their behavior may be a response to Greece’s perpetually calamitous state.
May 25, 2016
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While Tsangari is as adept at finding fresh perspectives on her single setting as she is at slyly flattening out the structure of the group’s tireless gameplaying, her obvious skill can’t hide the fact that how she packages her one-note concept is perhaps more interesting than the concept itself. For all the many possible interpretations the scenario permits, the most apparent one is also the least compelling: men will be men.
May 22, 2016
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Tsangari, shooting in luxuriant widescreen, sometimes gets bogged down in following the men’s ridiculous mano-a-mano face-offs with very simple, over-the-shoulder close-ups in shot/countershot. Nevertheless, there are many effortlessly elegant shots of their anxiety playing out in close quarters, and of the mighty Aegean, all of which infuse the film with a feel that floats somewhere between no-holds-barred candid document and overtly constructed work of art.
May 03, 2016
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Contrary to Guy Lodge’s claim in an otherwise enlightening Variety review, there is nothing “unfettered” about Tsangari’s approach to her cast of maladroit machos; if anything, it is her restraint that is most commendable here, keeping a potentially volatile premise on a relatively even keel. Chevalier is rich with bickering and petty squabbles, but the film is sustained thanks to the men’s ability to preserve a modicum of respect toward one another, and toward the rules of their absurd game.
December 21, 2015
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There are some very funny scenes involving assembling flat-pack furniture and lip-synching Minnie Riperton, but the film’s sharpest moments come when the men behave in ways usually considered stereotypically feminine. The momentum drops once the concept becomes too familiar and it’s not quite as original in feel as Tsangari’s breakthrough film Attenberg, but it mostly feels as fresh as the film they catch.
October 02, 2015
Stephen Colbert, Ben Stiller or Joe Mangianello could find comic gold in the premise while new shades of meaning could be found in an all-female version that could be led by Tina Fey, Julia Louis Dreyfus and Jennifer Aniston. One only hopes that future iterations retain Tsangari’s deadpan humor, adventurous soundtrack and the haunting cinematography that turns the slate blue of the Aegean Sea the biggest winner of all.
September 29, 2015
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An inspired, gorgeously photographed work of deadpan lunacy that asserts itself as a spit-take on masculine rivalries… As the comedy of manners devolves, it also evolves into a thought-provoking critique on how the personal affects the political, and the utter ridiculousness of all human subjectivity.
September 22, 2015
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As humorous as the film’s depiction of male insecurity may be, Tsangari’s clear affection for the men eschews simple condemnation. The director cites Cassavetes as an inspiration, and Chevalier shares much in common with Husbands. Both films stare headlong at characters’ arrested development and suggest that traits commonly pegged as immature may be standards of conceptual masculinity, but both also see the charm in their characters’ buffoonery.
September 18, 2015
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Even if it lacked Attenberg’s delightful originality, it still offered the sort of gratifyingly humorous insight about the human creature and its peculiar relationships, not least to itself.
September 15, 2015
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No less than Claire Denis, Tsangari is interested in the rituals and ridiculousness of men in groups, but this yacht-set comedy is no Boat travail: its sextet of male protagonists are not legionnaires but leisure-seekers, whose cozy co-existence on the luxury vessel suggests a floating equivalent to a no-girls-allowed treehouse… Chevalier unfolds as an alternately goofy and elusive comedy of one-upmanship.
September 06, 2015
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Benefiting from an excellent cast and Tsangari and Filippou’s knack for absurdist deadpan humor, it’s an engaging premise that doesn’t fully hold up when stretched over a feature running time. In terms of narrative and characters, there is hardly any progression. While this could very well be a comment about the permanence of the status quo, as a viewing experience it translates to watching a succession of preposterous scenarios with diminishing returns and an unsatisfying pay-off.
August 19, 2015
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Script, dialog, decoupage and actors’ direction have such an extreme precision and such a unique sense of being calibrated to the millimeter that beyond the efficiency of their effects (be it the upbeat of comedy, if not satire, or under the pressure of roaming violence), one constantly admires the director’s rigor in filmmaking. Far from the artificial coldness or from the arty clenching (crispation) of some of her contemporaries, Tsangari takes from classical cinema in her art as watchmaking.
August 16, 2015
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Chevalier keeps its earnest silliness in check, so the strangest elements, such as the five black monoliths left on board after the shelf-building competition, or an impromptu lip-syncing performance, are hardly as alienating as one would expect from this filmmaker. The result, to put it inadequately, is that Chevalier is in fact restrained and accessible, its humor one of refined absurdity, comic restraint and dignity, in keeping with its group’s all-around respectability and averageness.
August 13, 2015
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The richness of the film’s themes cannot overcome the weakness of the story. A charming and ironic sense of humour makes up for a lot of deficiencies but can do little to make up for the fact that the film has no forward momentum.
August 13, 2015
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That Tsangari resists escalating the conflict, counting on subtle political insinuations to emerge as these perplexing social Olympics wear on, will leave as many viewers enervated as amused, but it’s an expertly executed tease.
August 12, 2015
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