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  • Writer's picturePatrick Mooty

FILM REVIEW: Challengers

If you give it the time of day, like a good match of tennis, you could be gripped to the very end

The long-awaited Challengers, or the 'Zendaya tennis threesome' movie as it has become known since its months-long delay, tells the story of a love triangle - or, more appropriately, a love square - between Tashi, Art, Patrick, and the sport of tennis. When tennis prodigy, Tashi, is forced to retire after an injury, she begins living her would-be career through her husband, Art. Matters are complicated, however, when Art must go up against Patrick, his former best friend and Tashi’s ex.

Marketed primarily off of its now-infamous threesome scene, Challengers looked like it would be little more than, in a Saltburn-esque move, erotic fodder for the TikTok crowd. While that stuff is in it, the film also has a gripping story about obsession that becomes more engrossing the further along it goes, each flashback and flash-forward revealing something new about these characters’ shifting motivations and keeping the audience on its toes.

The characters themselves, as good as the actors are in their roles, are not particularly likeable. Mike Faist playing the more submissive of the trio, Josh O’Connor the backstabber with a good smarmy smile, and Zendaya the ruthless puppet-master, all these characters are pretty toxic who, as much as they need each other, should not be together. However, this makes for some compelling drama, and as the film intensifies so do the tennis matches, each whack of a ball being felt by the audience.

Feeling like an obscure straight-to-streaming movie (which it was originally meant to be) that you put on and end up surprisingly enjoying, Challengers has more to offer than its threesome scene. If you give it the time of day, like a good match of tennis, you could be gripped to the very end.

Rating: 7/10

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