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Challengers

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Three tennis aces have a love triangle relationship over a multi-year period in . Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) is a past his prime Tennis superstar preparing for the 2019 US Open while recovering from an injury. Art's wife and coach, retired tennis ace Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), enters him as a wild card into a Challenger event in New Rochelle, New York, to get match experience. However, it turns out that also competing in the Challenger is Patrick Zweig (Josh O'Connor), Art's former best friend and Tashi's ex-boyfriend. Art and Patrick end up playing each other in the finals of the Challenger, with each set being representative of the 13-year love triangle they have with Tashi.

Challengers Synopsis

Challengers is a romantic sports drama directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name, Bones and All). The film stars Miike Faist (West Side Story) and Josh O'Connor (The Crown) as childhood best friends Art Donaldson and Patrick Zweig. The two end up meeting 18-year-old prodigy Tashi Duncan, played by Zendaya (Dune), who's also a producer on the film, while the two are playing at the 2006 US Open, where they win the boys' junior doubles title.

After exchanging flirtations and teasing a threesome, Tashi tells Art and Patrick that she would only give her number to the winner of an upcoming tennis match between the two. This begins a love triangle between the three, with both Patrick and Art winning the affection of Tashi over the next 13 years. These years of tension climax with a high-stakes 2019 match between Art and Patrick, as they both have something to prove.

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My Thoughts on Challengers

It is early on in the plot of Challengers, where Zendaya's character of Tashi Duncan equates a game of tennis with a relationship. Indeed, this is symbolized throughout the film as the non-linear narrative of Challengers is framed around the 2019 Challenger finals between Art and Patrick. The progression of the game ends up mirroring the relationship each shared with Tashi.

Following on the heels of her Emmy-winning role on HBO's Euphoria and her 2021 film Malcolm & Marie, Challengers marks a continuation of a more mature phase in the career of Zendaya, further moving past her origins as a Disney Channel child star and pop singer. Depicting the character of Tashi from her late teens to early 30s, she is played by Zendaya as a major manipulator, beginning with her teasing a threesome with Art and Patrick, just so she can enjoy some homoerotic kissing.

Challengers positions Josh O'Connor's character of Patrick as the more sympathetic of the two former friends, as he is introduced as a dishevelled man who can't even pay for a hotel. However, as the story of Challengers progresses, both Art and Patrick have various degrees of sympathy and dislike. Even Tashi undergoes an evolution, becoming more coldhearted and selfish as time progresses.

The emotion of Challengers is heightened by an excellent techno score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Their score stands alongside the best for the duo, such as the Oscar-winning scores for The Social Network and Soul. Here's hoping that Challengers paves the way for Reznor and Ross' third accolade.

Altogether, Challengers ends up being a surprisingly engaging use of tennis to tell the story of a love triangle.

Trailer for Challengers

This post was proofread by Grammarly 
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Challengers (2024)
Runtime:131 minutes
Director:Luca Guadagnino
Countries:United States, Italy
Actors:
Art Donaldson
Patrick Zweig
Tashi Donaldson
Umpire (New Rochelle Final)
Art's Physiotherapist
Art's Security Guard
Tashi's Mother
Line Judge (New Rochelle Final)
TV Sports Commentator (Atlanta 2019)
TV Sports Commentator (Atlanta 2019)
Genres:Comedy, Drama, Romance
Writer:
(written by)
Plots:
Tashi, a former tennis prodigy turned coach, turned her husband into a champion. But to overcome a losing streak, he needs to face his ex-best friend and Tashi's ex-boyfriend.
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