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The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

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“Challengers” Changed My Life

“Challengers” challenged the average-movie goer in the best way
Promotional poster of Challengers
Promotional poster of “Challengers”

With a movie full of blaring sinister music in random scenes and epilepsy-inducing hand-held shots, you wouldn’t think it would be such a fan favorite; but it has easily become one of the most beloved films of the past year. I think its praise can be attributed to the excitement surrounding its invigoratingly distinctive cinematography, soundtrack, edits, and plot structure.

Even with Director Luca Guadagnino’s highly unusual editing techniques, the average viewer has been able to endure and tell all their friends to endure this masterpiece of sports, romance and in-depth examination of an ever-perplexing dynamic between three individuals.

The film follows a dissident wife coaching her now-aging tennis champion husband into oblivion. In an attempt to rescue his increasingly declining career, she places him in a challenger event- one of the lowest levels of tournament you can play in the tour. His plans for redemption are put on hold when he’s met face-to-face with his ex-best friend and wife’s former boyfriend.

Luca Guadagnino is well known for his affinity for unnerving his viewers, but I don’t think he’s been able to accomplish so while simultaneously presenting an electrification and unexpectedness that carries throughout the whole film in such a capacity as this. Every scene had some element of surprise that I don’t think anyone in the theater was prepared for. The camera would go in a random direction, or a shrill horror-movie like sound would randomly play. Even just following the dialogue was difficult to do as characters were constantly spouting shocking plot-turns or just saying things that normally wouldn’t be done in an ordinary film.

Another one of Guadagnino’s unique abilities as a director expressed in this film is his talent for making the average watcher care about the intricacies of the movie that only an avid movie fan would concern themselves with. Shocking cinematography like the camera being directly under the characters, or random slow-motion shots left even casual movie goers discussing these abnormal cinematic blessings.

The plot structure is built by introducing the present-day situation and arriving at the match. The movie then takes us to twenty years previous where they’re just meeting the wife, played by Zendaya. After this, Guadagnino flips between both time realms constantly with such ease and skill. Every shift beautifully connects both times while explaining new holes in the plot. This timeline was executed masterfully and made for such an exhilarating watch as the viewer.

Believe it or not, I almost didn’t go to see this incredible film achievement due to the disappointing simplicity of the trailer. This is a consistency among many viewers. Many complained of the superficiality, but in retrospect, I think Guadagnino did this with a more decisive intent than many see. In hopes of attracting a larger audience, who would go in thinking they’re seeing a commercial sports movie, he made a trailer directly catered to them. This is a genius marketing technique because this is exactly what he accomplished. A technique such as this exposes the general public to incredible cinema that they normally wouldn’t see. More filmmakers should adapt this advertising approach to support the production of more new, exciting cinema that’s really trying to say something.

I haven’t been this pleasantly surprised by a film and its impact in a while. I left the theater elated and excited to tell all my family and loved ones about this cinematic masterpiece, which is a feeling that’s extremely hard to produce in someone in only about two hours. I urge everyone to go see this movie and all of its magnificent idiosyncrasies immediately.


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About the Contributor
Grace Shafer
Grace Shafer, Senior Staff Writer
Grace Shafer is a sophomore at Robinson and a senior staff writer for Knight Writers. This is her second year on staff. Along with journalism, Shafer likes to spend her time reading and watching films. Some of her favorite authors at the moment are Joan Didion and Eve Babitz. At the moment, Sse enjoys films such as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Night of the Hunter" and "20th century." Her favorite directors currently are Greta Gerwig, Wes Anderson, and David Lynch. Even though Shafer describes herself to be a very high-maintenance person, she wishes to travel and backpack through all of Europe at some point in life because she believes it's a beautiful country and she has always loved it. This year, Shafer is most looking forward to her English class because she gets along with her teacher and they might start a film class and a literary magazine, both being things Shafer enjoys and can't wait to be able to be a part of. "I just love journalism and writing in general," Shafer said. Looking into the future, Shafer's dream job ties almost directly into what she's going to be doing in her English class this year. "My favorite thing ever and what I want to eventually pursue as a career is film," Shafer said. Profile by Heather Parker
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