Co-writer/ director Athina Rachel Tsangari (scripting with Efthymis Filippou) gets her revenge on mankind with her vicious portrait of male rivalry, vanity and insecurity in this ambitious 2015 Greek deadpan comedy.
On a fishing trip on a luxury yacht in the middle of the Aegean Sea, six bored, mostly middle-aged men decide to play a game to determine who is the best in general and agree to undergo a series of challenges ranging from cleaning contests and an IKEA flatpack assembly race to, er, measurements of manliness. The winner gets the coveted Chevalier signet ring of the title.
The six men’s testosterone-driven competition reveals tensions and cracks in their bravado macho façades and it turns out that these six men are all vain, stupid and ridiculous – and presumably so are all men in general, by extension of the parable.
Despite its striking and promising set-up, the arthouse movie Chevalier turns out to be unfunny, repetitive and really boring, quite excruciating to sit through. The six men prove the most uncongenial and unpleasant company, and rarely have I felt such an urgent need to leave the cinema and so early on in a film – after about ten minutes. It runs 110 minutes and my feeling of relief at the end was as strong as my feeling of irritation at the film, despite what must be its good intentions.
Possibly, it takes a good film to produce such a strong reaction. Possibly.
It is advertised as a ‘a buddy movie without the buddies’. I’m not sure what that means, and nor am I clear what a deadpan comedy means here either. The term deadpan apparently emerged in 1928 as a compound word combining dead and pan (a slang term for the face) describing the act of displaying a lack of emotion. So it is usually a form of comedy delivery, e.g. Buster Keaton’s deadpan expression.
But deadpan can also be a mirror to characters unaware of their folly, and that must be what Tsangari is going for here. But why I would want to spend 110 minutes with six such characters and their folly, Tsangari only knows.
In Greek with English subtitles.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Movie Review
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