At last, a five star film. I had hopes for Chevalier as it is co-written by Efthymis Filippou, the co-writer of The Lobster and Dogtooth, two brilliant films by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. And you know how much I loved The Lobster. Set on a luxury yacht off a nameless Greek Island, six men, with various connections with each other, dive, fish and share food, wine and stories. Slowly at first and then with greater intensity, they begin to compete for the prize of the “best man in general.”
There is none of the surreal quality of The Lobster, this story is firmly anchored in reality. As it progresses, though, and each competitive task is revealed, it becomes apparent that there is a deep subtext here. What happens when we feel we are being judged? How does it alter who we are, how we behave, how we judge others? I suspect this is about masculinity – the stereotype of having to be the better man and all of the characters are male – yet I think it is actually about a universal trait; to set our value through comparison with those around us.
This may make it sound like a serious film but it’s not. There is a warm, dry humour behind it and it made me laugh. There are some beautiful scenes, some subtle, some not at all, and the differences between the characters and how they relate to each other is delicately revealed. I’m still pondering who won the competition and what it says about what really makes the best man. Watch it and then we can have a chat about it.