Chevalier : A Film Review

Chevalier. Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari. Greece. English subtitles. Duration. 105 mins. Cert. 18. Written by Athina Rachel Tsangari and Efthymis Filippou.

Makis Papadimitriou, Yiorgos Kendros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis, Efthymis Papadimitriou, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Sakis Rouvas, Giannis Drakopoulos, Nikos Orphanos, Kostas Filippoglou.

Synopsis of sorts

The short synopsis provided by a film theatre does a fine job.  As follows. During a week-long excursion on a luxury yacht, six men decide to pass th time by engaging in a game to determine which of them is ‘The Best in Genral’. As the competition escalates through a series of increasingly bizarre contests – which range from deck-swabbing to sleep posture to IKEA assembly – God sportsmanship goes out the window as the men jockey for position.  My blog is intended as additional background without divulging much more than the forementioned.  It tells of the psychology at work, the important pre-existing relationships and of course something about how the Director, Writer, Actors, obtain your interest and entertain.  It is also very funny in stretches as the ‘games’ develop.  Another attendee thought it slow, as I also mention further on, but I think maybe the ‘men’ jokes which I imagine Athina Rachel Tsangari, harvesting over a glass or two of wine with her girlfriends what they might imagine men testing each other with – the funnier for outcome sake – the better.

Director of the finest contemporary auteur order

In 2010 with the film Attenburg, (a mispronounce of Dear David Att..) it was apparent a perceptive social commentary of contemporary Greek life had arose in the form of Athina Rachel Tsangari with an assured grip on technique, abstraction, suspension, all propelled by a tight group of young actors themselves unattached to the mores of the uniform diet of cinema within their nations grasp. This was also followed by what I have to say is an amalgam of cinema, art, drama, and with theatrical intimacy in The Capsule, 2012, which separated, as this film does with men, women into a gender extrapolation as they exist in parallel worlds and own values and rules of conduct.  Here comes a totally different construct with several men in a boat owned by an elderly Doctor  (Yorgos Kendros).  The close proximity of a shared holiday and depredations, rebonding together and as an aside or perhaps even their aim, seeking to know the others form as men for whatever it means and obtain the same about themselves.


The pairings or closeness of the men.

The 6 well to do men have connections in pairs you might say.  The Doctor has a colleague, the unsuccessful suitor as in-law Christo – a well known Greek figure as singer, (Sakis Rouvas).  The next pairing being long standing business partners, the bearded pair  Yorgos (Panos Koronis) and Josef (Vangelis Mourikis) whose exchanges already are tests of each other’s strengths and weaknesses succeeding mainly because of a dignity of evenhanded see practices over decades. Each character shows us how they relate – first through these longer relationships – then as they go on solo runs as it were establishing new or imagined hierarchies.

The pairing of the Doctor and Christos is hinged also to the brothers Yannis (Yorgos Pirpassopoulos) the Doctors actual son in-law, and Dimitris (Makis Papadimitriou) a brother whose dependencies are due to a form of unexplained autism which has him living at home with his their mother and who requires to be twinned in the accommodation with his over-confident brother. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – some attainment of wealth brings them to a luxury onyx marble walled palatial floating marine hotel.  It is very quickly the case of discovering any issues they, each, have is caught inside, condensed and compressed into a large glass bottle with the lid tightly fixed like a Kinder jar.  An amount of OCD appears. Also  Neurosis, Narcissim, Paranoia, thankfully no psycotic, psychosis I disclose for the overly concerned – ratings must divulge levels of violence anyway. There is a Captain and two crew, cook/chef and gofer, commischef in attendance whose presence is not entirely secondary as they facilitate certain discretionary and have their own outlook on life which they funnily replicate the game which has the 6 transfixed as they reach the end of their otherwise spear fishing, water sports, occupied holiday.  I wanted to use the line – he’s had more issues than the New Yorker but it doesn’t adhere to any of them, as far as me thinks.

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Yorgos asks Christo
Magnificent ancient civilised location.

The Aegean is a majestic place which Athina Rachel Tsangari cleverly conscripts to place the tale as a timeless study; modern refinements of a comfortable well provisioned boat and assortment of toys at their disposal aside, of male machismo and foibles.  Astutely she fashions a set of parameters; the Captain retains separation with tan not announcements modestly humorous unwittingly of weather forecasts, today will be .. 9 reaching high 20’s .. Please notify any of the crew should you propose to dive later.  The exchanges follow a shore bound spear-fishing exercise which has each party except for Dimitris wet-suited approach a deserted stony beach with their floats, fish and spears.  They separately kill, Octopus, Calimari, and the bream etc, caught before returning together triumphantly satiated with hunter zeal  to the yacht.  There they co-operate in removing the suits as a joint ritual, they then do the round table after fishing talk of the recentl thrill sharing their own separate versions and comparing their sense of the sea ad its purpose.  It is a striking entry and with the sometimes out of focus camera tracing their movements in the beginning in this the merging heat filled environment, who begin emerging as distinct characters with a range of issues.  None immense, if you consider they have devices to manage them for their and they’re companies dignity and are relatively tolerated.  The psycologogy of males interests both the writer and she asks us to concede, with ease, the group share the same curiosity for self or other more obtuse reasons.  Certainly the pairings exact tensions even though there is no visible or extension of mental bonds on the surface for anyone to take into account.  It is when they embark on the authors device of challenging each other to obtain their status within the general scheme of things they embark on the strange game of ‘The Best in General’.  It is the trophy sentiment of the title which is a contest to conquest over their fellow compatriots.

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The friendships alliances are set the test of scrutinizing every aspect of their behaviour, from their physical appearance, self management, resistance to temptation, manner of speaking, addressing strangers or companions, sharing of intimate details of their lives to some degree, of erudition and learned skills such as meal preparation and all degrees of civility or culpability in between.  And there is an ongoing fertility exam of the erection kind which has various meas of delivery of proof of content.  Along with the Doctor lead medical exam which Dimitris displays a phobias to and his   is to provide an entertainment interlude which is to be judged as all things are judged under each mans watchful eye. There are genuinely serious singular internalised torments held inside each of the characters heads.  If you think long enough you will grasp a dilemma of some seriousness image within each person.  One fellow watcher said it was very slow to get going, had little to interest the youthful her, and it was damned with faint praise because of its eccentric European vibe.  It is after all of enough substance to attain Best Film at the London Film Festival. 


Alternative over informative views

Reviewers I have now read concerning this film spend too much type on telling you the entire story, not its shape of comparative states of entry to it but one even gives a blow by blow account of the completion of the spoils referencing the hole shebang and frankly it does not even come close do doing any, any part of the film or the Directors sense of the male construct – physical content defrocked, or any sense of place in contemporary life in this part of Europe.  The abandoned resort hotel which is a large part of the central location of the film doesn’t get a mention – (I saved that bit! – it’s not a spoiler in ant event!) but it is as annoying as bejesus to have that seen as a valid review given its overt dependence on – looking at, noting word for word repartee?  Everyone will come away with favourite lines, there are plenty of gems to choose from, and many surprises and individual performances and formidablely questioning scenes ar invested in by actors for our study and interpretation.  It is beautiful in that sense – that you go with it and find out about the characters I have the beginning loosened you into by describing some elements of already existing relations that add value to the concentration required in the minutiae of detail, cinematographer editor and camera person dispose for the Director, Writers on the story.


Conclusion ####4

A excellent entertaining psychological mind twisting drama.  Loving written, tender realisation in a sun splitting post Ancient Greece, neuvo post EU crash austerity almost criminal disregard of a nation by its neighbours despite their all along know tax discrepancies – who in the EU watched on?  Turned a blind eye and left the vultures in.  This is periferally addressed by the use of a once luxurious sea fronting hotel slap bang in the midst of the azure Aegean.  Reflections on self are made and on others via. comical inquisitive games which touch raw nerves as well as expose the realties existing – an iceberg analogy is not misplaced with the visible public multi-faceted self the top while underneath are the – and there are possible connections made in reference to the experiences of each individual to actual diving – vulnerabilities ever present.

Athina Rachel Tsangari is a very gifted all rounder with a mind plundering the male and female psyche and the allegiances, separations, risks and rewards taken and with an insightful magical way of developing the themes around an apparent story of men enjoying each other’s company away from conventional pressures and indulging in sports or explorations which are the stuff possible of younger energetic souls.  It’s complex and emotionally intelligent despite the presence of the ‘make up girls weird games’ possible trawl which my imagined generator for the different weird aspects.   Some culinary tips no doubt correct are snippets of finessing story relationships along with the boat owner – the Doctor – having an outward control while underlying problems emerge.  He and Christos use fitness rowing machines – not like Srs Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinset – more routine and this is typical as a a means of proposing your insight to character being lead by nuances and otherwise – the use of games makes the viewer adopt it is suggested – the same queries seen.

Very watchable but slightly hard to get into – empathy on my part counts – and a rewarding watch.  Not a massively mind shifting experience but certain to make you rearrange some thoughts, allow some slack or give further thought to otherwise ‘for appearances sake’ propositions.  Excellent.  Music is excel

Net also but early very compelling bass, garage, loose funk as they get on the boat after their beach landing is not followed up unfortunately – nor is there the mercurial Vangelis Papathounoisious music utilised.  I can tell you the ending song is byChessingtons greatest and beautiful.  There is a soxties Karaoke very good insert which you will remember long after i imagine.

John Graham

20 July 2016

Belfast

On at QFT Belfast from Froday 22 July to 28 July 2016.  On general UK release. I wonder if Mark Kermode likes it?  It’s occasionally his excuse he’s forgetting minor things as Mayo quizzes him on his industrial strength film prober mind.

His take on the last film I reviewed The Neon Demon was by his account worthy of its mixed – I like mixed opinions he proposed (a bit of a guide I think between those who ‘watched it’ and those who viewed it) – reception.  It was fairly and plainly not as worthy as many make it out to be.  One was completely off the mark saying it could become a cult classic.  It was unfortunately unrewarding and a waste of the talent on view.

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