"I would have to describe this film as oddly compelling. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, it’s a fairly slow moving subtle character piece"

One night six friends on a fishing trip decide to play a game, and since none of them were smart enough to pack Monopoly, they end up playing a selection of word and logic games with rules it feels like they are largely inventing as they go along. As many of the group become bored of this endeavour a new game is suggested, Chevalier. Each member of the group is to come up with a challenge that everyone must attempt and the overall winner gets a chevalier ring (no I wasn’t sure what that meant either but they talk about it like it’s a real thing so just go with it).

This descends, possibly out of cabin fever, into the game being expanded to include not just the challenges but every aspect of life aboard the yacht, each of them judging the others on every little thing they do, how they sleep, how they walk and so forth, until the person who is the “best in general” is declared the winner and alpha male of the group. So the six enter this somewhat idiotic dick measuring contest (at one point literally) that slowly reveals the cracks in their various relationships, strains their competitive natures (even causing them to extend the holiday by two more days so they can finish), and threatens to tear them all apart with its passive aggressive designs.

I would have to describe this film as oddly compelling. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, it’s a fairly slow moving subtle character piece, there’s no real tension in the game from an audience perspective and our “heroes” are realistic people not overblown caricatures so conversation is small and petty and much of what transpires is inconsequential. But the slow reveal of each of the groups insecurities and how they tie in together is fascinating and I do enjoy a movie where you have to put some of the pieces together yourself.

Each of the men is well rounded with no clear villain or hero you can get behind, everyone is flawed and sympathetic in equal measure and you’ll be as conflicted on who you want to win the game as the cabin staff who are taking bets on the outcome. But it doesn’t really matter, we’re here to learn the jigsaw of these characters lives and it’s pretty interesting viewing with some great understated performances by the cast.

Unfortunately the film has no central hook, it’s funny but not funny enough to be noteworthy, in the continued name of realism there’s no simple solution offered to any of the conflict the game brings to the surface of these men’s lives so there’s no real dramatic narrative, and there’s nothing truly outrageous that comes out of the characters turning against each other besides one almost fight that seems to be instantly forgotten. It wouldn’t be that shocking to see a final title card read “And they never spoke to each other again” but by the end it kind of feels like nobody learnt anything and nothing has been accomplished and that might sit a little flat for some people.