"It is precisely the use of the camera fixating on body movements, muscles and small details that pushes the audience to find beauty in every movement"

For people who love to watch competitive sports or really feel that adrenaline rush that only a really good tennis match will give you, Challengers channels precisely that energy and anticipation. 

The movie follows Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) and Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) through their relationship of thirteen years, from the moment the two boys see Tashi compete at the peak of her tennis career until the match that brings all three of them back together. 

The marketing used to promote this film pushes towards the narrative that Tashi, in a way, is the master manipulator, taking advantage of her talent and fame to control both Art and Patrick. 

In part this is true, however, if one would like to attempt and find a theme for Challengers, it can only be the portray of how, as a whole, human beings can be selfish by nature; each character in the film is motivated by one thing, and one thing only - their need to win. 

Tashi uses Art and Patrick to still be a part of the Tennis world. Since she cannot play anymore because of her injury, the next best thing is to manipulate the two men in her life to play the best game of their life. All to feel that exhilarating feeling that only a good match can give her. 

Art manipulates Patrick and Tashi just to get Tashi as the final prize. He is willing to hurt his two friends to win the "It girl" everyone loves and envy and make her his own. But the motivation behind his action is not love, it’s just the need to be better than everyone else, especially Patrick. 

Patrick just wants to play tennis and win. Doesn’t matter if he is defeating his best friend or if he ends up losing his girlfriend. The most important things are playing, manipulating and in the end win. 

Their relationship is fuelled by their never ending drive to be the best and play the most spectacular match of their life, with Tashi playing the puppet master without never completely owning neither Art nor Patrick. 

Luca Guadagnino was the only director capable of bringing Challengers to life on screen. As an artist, the Italian director is never afraid of showing people’s true colours. His talent is to find beauty in the ugly, which is something he did successfully in “Bones and All”. 

This time there is no need to use supernatural creatures to highlight human cruelty and selfishness. A close up on Zendaya’s facial expression is enough to fully portray her character’s determination to still be relevant and the best in Tennis at all costs. There is no acceptance of defeat even after her injury. The only important thing is to still be remembered and adored. 

It is precisely the use of the camera fixating on body movements, muscles and small details that pushes the audience to find beauty in every movement. To be transfixed by the aesthetics of the human body with all its imperfections. 

Guadagnino is also excellent in keeping the audience glued to the screen while the story unfolds by creating a rhythm throughout the movie that resembles the one the audience feels while following a tennis match. 

The storyline is not linear, but the more we get deeper in the film, the more we are given more details to fill in the blanks and really understand what motivates Tashi, Art and Patrick. 

The soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross drives the tempo with electrifying tracks strategically placed in each scene to ignite each moment the main characters are about to take action and strike. At times it may feel overpowering, but it serves the purpose of keeping the audience engaged with the story as much as the characters are.

None of these aspects would have worked if it wasn’t for the flawless performance by Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist. The three of them go toe to toe and never miss a beat. The story is relentless, but their portrayal of Tashi, Art and Patrick through the decade never loses momentum. 

All three actors are not afraid to embrace every aspect of their characters, no matter how cruel, cheeky or selfish they become. 

With a dynamic soundtrack, an extraordinary talented cast and a provocative director, Challengers is a fun movie that offers pure entertainment for the audience.