Challengers | Movie Review

Constantly shuffling between different time periods of their lives, the film revolves around 3 protagonists and their journeys through life, love and there’s also a little bit about tennis.

If, like me, you go into the film expecting to see Zendaya be more of an MJ or her teenage Disney self, you might leave disappointed. Tashi Duncan is a wild, talented, unscrupulous character, skillfully portrayed by Zendaya. 

This is the kind of movie you find difficult to pick who to root for. And the beauty of Challengers is that you never have to pick. All three characters were written so different, yet equally despicable you can't pick a favorite.

The movie follows Tashi Duncan, a teenage tennis pro who suffers a career-ending injury. Determined to stay in the world of tennis, as she “knows nothing more than hitting a ball with a racquet”, she goes on to coach her longtime friend turned husband, Art Donaldson. As teenagers, both Art and Tashi decide to go to college on a sports scholarship, while Art's childhood best friend and Tashi's ex boyfriend, Patrick goes a different way. 

At various points of the film, they subtly allude to Tashi and Art's marriage hinging on Art's performance at his games, and retaining his fame and position in the US Open. This theme plays throughout Tashi's interactions, whether with Patrick or Art, when she hints constantly that the winner gets her. 

If “tennis" is a metaphor for the sexual tension between the characters, Tashi plays a thwacking good game – on and off the court. As a tennis noob, my takeaway from the movie was the differing game styles of each player – which is reflective of their own unique brands of subtle manipulation they throw at each other throughout the movie. 

Love triangles, friendship, intense sports drama, years of rivalry, betrayal, thumping background score – Challengers has it all and is worth a watch, if only for that one scene where the camerawork is so dizzying and artistic, you just have to heap praise. 


Review by Pooja Shenoy

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