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Chevalier-a film by Athina Rachel Tsangari

Chevalier-a film by Athina Rachel Tsangari

Chevalier has a few meanings in the English language-It could mean a member of the French orders or knighthood, or it could mean a chivalrous man.  When Athina Rachel Tsangari and Efthimis Filippou co wrote their screenplay for Chevalier which Athina Rachel Tsangari went on to direct, I suspect that the latter definition was at the fore of their thinking for their film.  Six men, connected in some way through relations or friendship, come together to holiday and dive on the doctor's yacht.  The nature of their relationships are vaguely conveyed through their work, or loosely tied by the relationship of some to the doctor's daughter, Anna.  This though, is not the driving theme behind the film, what drives the story forward is the game that they all decide to participate in; a game that will narrow in on a winner who will ultimately become the general best at everything and win the signet ring, the chevalier, and wear it with pride.

The film has won best film at the London Film Festival, premiered at Locarno 2015, Toronto 2015 and New York Film Festival.  I saw it last night at the Melbourne International Film Festival, 2016.  It is absurdist and more often than not humorous, depicting a rendition of the modern man and all of his faults, fears, psychological mishaps, and break downs.  There is an undercurrent of the general sway that can dangerously happen within a group when judgement is passed onto a person for whatever reason too, just or not.  At times there is incredible tension amongst them as they navigate this game, only to conclude at the end with a happy handshake and an understanding of sorts.  Is it that they all revealed their weaknesses to each other and thus were able to be liberated from this?  Or it is that at the end of it all, camaraderie and mate ship will rise above anything else?

Chevalier is very cleverly written.  The script is beautifully syntactic and because of the strength in the composition of the words and dialogue, the story flows effortlessly and with charm.  Added to this is Athina Rachel Tsangari's wonderful direction which allows the audience to identify and even understand the issues that the characters sail through.

Having a film directed by a woman which solely focuses on six men playing a game, whilst confronting their own foibles, gives rise to the greater issues at hand which are also faced by women too in a society that tries to dictate what is 'best'.  Athena Rachel Tsangari, successfully achieves this.  Greece has always been able to find an order within it's chaos, and perhaps in this time of crisis that Greece is experiencing, it's storytellers and filmmakers are able to bring about an order that allows the rest of the globe to realise that we are all one and the same, made up of insecurities, negative thoughts but with a desire to be loved and to love.

Stella Dimadis


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