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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

CineHawk review: ‘Challengers’

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GRAPHIC: STEPHANIE SAVELA ’25/THE HAWK

“Challengers” is a romantic sports drama directed by Luca Guadagnino starring Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist, with a screenplay by Justin Kuritzkes. “Challengers” follows Tashi, played by Zendaya, a former tennis professional-turned-coach, whose career ended after suffering a devastating loss. When her husband, Art, played by Faist, goes on a losing streak, she decides to sign him up for an amateur competition to help him bounce back. During the tournament, he faces off against his ex-best friend and Tashi’s ex-boyfriend, Patrick, played by O’Connor. Across the duration of the film, we learn about the toxic romantic history of the three characters while feeling the brunt of the competition between them on the court and during moments of intimacy. The movie is currently playing exclusively in theaters.

“Challengers” is absolutely sensually satisfying to watch. The film succeeds at engaging the senses with a brain-haunting stimulation. The visual style of the movie and the sexiness of the three main stars entice the audience to remain peeled to the screen, whether it’s during the pulse-pounding tennis sequences or the heavily R-rated moments that are shockingly alluring to witness firsthand. Each scene doubles down on the narrative. 

The techno-inspired soundtrack, developed by Trent Reznor, amplifies the tension in the scenes during the arguments and does extremely well at amplifying the pressure of the tennis sequences. The only issue with the soundtrack is that sometimes it’s too loud to hear the characters talk. Movie-goers looking to see the film in IMAX should come in with a fresh set of ears because the background theme that plays could be overwhelmingly vociferous at times. 

The main standout of “Challengers” would be the performances. Zendaya gave the greatest performance of her career to date. She’s irresistibly blunt and charismatic. Her furious screen presence ignited the film with sparks of pure genius that tugs on your heart strings and rattles your mind with intrigue. Fans have long awaited for Zendaya to take on a role with such complexity. Film enthusiasts are predicting that Zendaya may be on the edge to snag herself an Oscar nomination for her performance. 

O’Connor and Faist share a relatable brotherly bond that brings a staggering amount of emotional weight to the film and intensifies the competition between the two. Usually, viewers can feel how overwhelmingly long Gaudagninos films are. Here, the runtime of 2 hours, 11 minutes does not feel at all owing to the fact that the film is so rife with excitement that keeps the audience on their feet. The chemistry between the two is so profound that the last 20 minutes of the film concludes so monumentally that it just might be one the greatest cinematic climaxes of the year. 

“Challengers” is one the most exciting films of 2024. By the end of the film, you’ll find yourself debating whose side you’re on and yearn to see it all again. 

 

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