#VicksFlicks Special Edition: Challengers

"Luca Guadagnino’s sexy, sweaty, and sultry tennis ménage à trois drama is a grand slam and arguably the best of his career thus far." Check out Brandon's review of 'Challengers' here!

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4.5 out of 5 stars

Luca Guadagnino’s sexy, sweaty, and sultry tennis ménage à trois drama is a grand slam and arguably the best of his career thus far. He and writer Justin Kuritzkes serve up a relentless, riveting romance for the ages that’s structured and paced magnificently. The amazing camerawork and editing, along with an explosive Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score make for an undeniably pulse-pounding experience.

Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor have electric chemistry while delivering three tremendous, tantalizing performances. They play people who constantly get off on competition, vying for everything and where nothing is out of bounds. Though their entrancing emotional entanglement is totally toxic as it’s designed by adoration, power plays, obsession, desire, manipulation, and codependency – it seems they can’t get enough of it.

Faist and O’Connor are ridiculously charming but in different ways. As Art and Patrick respectively, they’re playing for keeps in a physically and psychologically grueling game with twists and turns. And what a year it’s been for Zendaya and it’s only April. In her best performance to date, she is fucking fierce as Tashi. Her pitting two best friends against each other whilst having both by the balls has never been so gratifying to watch. She’s cool and cruel and is never not in control. She puts every single fiber of her being into coming out victorious by any means necessary. Zendaya is a proven powerhouse after seeing what she achieves here.

If you can’t tell by now, this is not your typical sports film. While the on-court action is exciting, Guadagnino isn’t really depicting tennis at all. He’s using it as more of a metaphor to highlight the deeper themes he’s erotically exploring off the court that do come to a head when it’s match point time.

Challengers is incredibly intense, intelligent, and intoxicating from the first swing to the last.

Brandon Vick is a member of The Music City Film Critics’ Association and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and the star of The Vick’s Flicks Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.

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