Zendaya In ‘Challengers’ Divalicious Review! A Thirsty Match Point Love Triangle of Tennis

By   |   April 24, 2024   |   Entertainment

Our Divalicious take on the new film Challengers, opening April 26!

Zendaya’s gaze could burn the camera. She darts her head back and forth as a tennis ball whizzes over the net. She gazes with unamused judgment at the two men on opposite sides of the court. The Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ electric score grinds into the air. 

Luca Guadagnino (Bones and All and Call Me By Your Name) has arrived with Challengers, yet another one of his paeans to longing and desire. It’s a sports story. It’s a love triangle story. Or really, it isn’t about love as it is about weaponizing relationship drama into sports passion.

Tashi Duncan (Zendaya) coaches her husband, Art Donaldson (Mike Faist), and she is determined to orchestrate his climb back to the championship. Only one hurdle. At a competition, Art is up against Tashi’s old flame and ex-tennis bestie, Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor). They couldn’t lead any more separate lives in their 30s. Whereas Tashi and Art live the high life thanks to their handsome paychecks from tennis and endorsements, Patrick is a bum player living hand-to-mouth in his car. He craves the legacy of being known as the poor tennis player who resurrected himself back into grace. Naturally, he also has some past relationship business with Tashi.

The stories toggle back and forth from their whirlwind relationships and early tennis careers as both boys compete for Tashi’s affection. Relationships and sports performance are one and the same. They pant. They drip in sweat and desire. They stare longingly at each other, either in want or disapproval. 

Just when Challengers takes a long leg stretch, the next scene veers toward a payoff. The movie is as bare-skinned and sensual as expected from a Guadagnino picture. And yes, the film leans hard into the inherent homoeroticism between the two men. The triangular wars between these three passions accumulate into an aplomb POV tennis shot (cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom) and a perfect closing visual.

photo credit: MGM

Filed Under: Entertainment
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