Athina Rachel Tsangari takes the fragility of masculinity as her focus in Chevalier, a brief, sardonic drama that seems to cut to the quick of ego-driven machismo as a competition among a group of men gets out of hand. The group—a hodgepodge of family and work acquaintances—is on a vacation together, spearfishing and relaxing on a rented yacht. As a way to pass the time, they devise a game called chevalier, in which they each make up some contest in which all the others must compete for points. The one with the most points at the end of the trip is awarded a chevalier ring to prove that they are the “best in general.”
Saturday, April 9, 9:50 pm
Tuesday, April 12, 9:45 pm
Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Producers: Maria Hatzakou, Athina Rachel Tsangari
Writers: Efthimis Filippou, Athina Rachel Tsangari
Cinematographer: Christos Karamanis
Editors: Matthew Johnson, Yorgos Mavropsaridis
Music: Juana Molina
Cast: Yorgos Kendros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis, Makis Papadimitriou, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Sakis Rouvas
Some of the challenges are simple but as the competition gets fiercer they get more outrageous. Everything these men do is painstakingly graded, from their posture while sleeping to the way they talk to their wives on the phone. Eventually they are taking pictures of their erections in the small yacht bathroom for a literal dick-measuring contest. Family bonds crack; longtime business partnerships collapse; and a few members fall into deep states of delirium—all in order to prove that they are the best.
What’s remarkable about Tsangari’s film is that she manages to lampoon the masculine and feminine ideals at once, since the severe (and psychotic) scrutiny that these men focus on each other is all too similar to the scrutiny faced by women at all times. It’s a funny film and also oddly scary, as these men plunge so deeply into a stupid game that they lose all sense of themselves.