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“Challengers” Hits the Big Screen

A review of the newest sports romance featuring Zendaya
Challengers poster. Photo Credit: Wikipedia
“Challengers” poster. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

  The long awaited film, “Challengers” hit the big screen on Apr. 22, 2024 and pulled huge groups of people into theaters. Tennis players were especially excited for the movie, but Zendaya fans were also eager to see the actress play a lead role in this brand new movie. 

  The film switches back and forth from a flashback to the present day and the story builds up piece by piece until the very last scene to put the full story together. While it is an exciting tennis movie, there is a complicated love triangle that makes the whole movie. Art Donaldson (played by Mike Faist) and Patrick Zweig (played by Josh O’Connor), who are both college students, are seen at the beginning of the film playing as doubles partners in the juniors U.S. Open tennis tournament, and it’s obvious that they were like brothers. Unfortunately, after they meet the 18-year-old upcoming tennis star, Tashi Duncan (played by Zendaya), their friendship slowly starts deteriorating. With that, Zendaya’s character is seen playing hard to get, but really just ends up going back and forth between the men. Art and Patrick are shown feuding over Tashi and through every flashback in the movie you can see their friendship becoming weaker and weaker. Eventually, Tashi ends up hurting herself during a match that prevents her from being able to play competitive tennis in the future, and she must live vicariously through her two boys. Shortly into the movie it reveals that Tashi ended up with Art, but did she really? While Art grew to be a successful tennis player with a beautiful wife and child, Patrick ended up being poor and having to scrap for food and a place to sleep. Fortunately, Patrick continued his passion for tennis years later, but he was doing it all without Art and the stakes were much higher for him. However, once Art is found struggling to continue his tennis winning-streak, he finds himself playing in a singles challenger tournament — basically a second tier tournament to qualify for the big “Grand Slam” tennis tournaments — against his long-lost best friend, Patrick. It’s obvious that the heat never simmered and the fire still burned through the trio, and you can feel the bad blood through the screen.

  Approximately the last 20 minutes of the movie is footage of Art and Patrick battling it out in their tennis match, but the director did an incredible job making those last 20 minutes extremely suspenseful. Needless to say I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The cinematographic choices the filmmakers made were unique and riveting. For example, in the match scene, the perspective switches to the tennis ball, making the audience feel like they are getting hit back and forth between the two men. While I’ve seen a lot of people say that this scene made them nauseous, I actually thought it was an extremely creative clip and I’ve never seen such a thing in a movie. Additionally, the cinematography throughout the whole movie was very well thought out. 

  As for the plot, I thought the plot development was incredibly done. The storyline between Tashi, Art and Patrick progressed in a way that kept me on my toes throughout the whole movie. I don’t see too many movies that switch back and forth between flashbacks and present day so I didn’t know how I felt about that style at first, but I actually ended up loving the way the writers decided to set up the movie. 

  I surprisingly despised Zendaya’s character, but I thought she played her role fabulously. Zendaya has always been one of my favorite actresses, and although I did not like her character, she was extraordinary per usual. I also feel like they couldn’t have casted the two men any better as well. There were some rumors on social media that Timothée Chalamet or Jacob Elordi were supposed to play one of the men in the movie, but I don’t think any actor would’ve been able to encapsulate the true spirit of a male tennis player. As a tennis player myself, I am able to kind of recognize their type, and I feel like “Challengers” perfectly encapsulated that aura. 

  However, every film has their downfall. I felt as if this movie could’ve been half the time it was. “Challengers” is a little longer than your average movie at 2 hours and 11 minutes, but it really felt like it was 4 hours long. While the scenes were enjoyable to watch, some of them just felt dragged on and unnecessary. Especially towards the end, I kind of just wanted the movie to be over because I was getting bored. Somehow, the directors still managed to make it suspenseful, but once the credits came on, I was ready to get out of the theater. Also, the film was honestly pretty predictable which I didn’t care for, but every movie must have their flaws. 

  All-in-all, this movie lived up to my standards but probably didn’t exceed them. I appreciated the director’s style and the casting but it just wasn’t necessarily my favorite movie I watched this year. However, I can see others with a different personality type absolutely loving this movie, so I would say it’s definitely worth the watch nonetheless.

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About the Contributor
Solè Demeuse
Solè Demeuse, Section Editor, Social Media Specialist
Solè Demeuse is a Junior in her first year of newspaper. She decided to take this class this year to pursue her interest in journalism and get a head start in it for college because at this time that is her preferred study. Solè is currently a reporter for the newspaper, working on writing new and exciting stories for the school to read about. Outside of school, she enjoys playing tennis and hanging out with friends and family.

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