‘Challengers’ is a romantic sports drama that will leave you on the edge of your seat

ZENDAYA, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor find themselves in a ménage à trois in the romantic sports drama, ‘Challengers.’ Picture: Instagram.

ZENDAYA, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor find themselves in a ménage à trois in the romantic sports drama, ‘Challengers.’ Picture: Instagram.

Published May 22, 2024


Step into the cut-throat world of professional tennis with Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” a movie that serves drama, passion and a love triangle.

At the heart of the story is Tashi Duncan, portrayed by Hollywood star Zendaya.

The 27-year-old, whose full name is Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman, has been dominating the entertainment and fashion world .

Following her roles in “Dune: Part Two” and “Megalopolis” this year, Zendaya shines yet again in “Challengers.”

Her stellar acting skills, athletic physique and star quality make this romantic sports drama film an even more alluring watch.

In the movie, she plays a former teenage tennis prodigy whose career was cut short by a brutal injury.

Not one to be sidelined, Tashi transitions from player to manager, focusing all her competitive fire on her husband, Art Donaldson, played by Mike Faist.

He is a charming and earnest tennis player who’s seen better days on the court. As the film kicks off, Art is stuck in a rut and his once-dominant presence in men’s tennis is fading fast.

But Tashi, ever the strategic and powerful woman, decides to reignite Art’s passion for the game by entering him into a lower-tier tournament. This move is about more than just winning; it’s about rediscovering the true winner within him.

As with any good drama, there’s a twist. Enter Patrick Zweig, played by the irresistibly scruffy Josh O’Connor. He's Art's former best friend and a bit of a wild card who is full of wit and charisma.

He's also hustling to make it big, even crashing in his car because he can't afford a hotel room.

ZENDAYA, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor find themselves in a ménage à trois in the romantic sports drama, ‘Challengers.’ Picture: Instagram.

The movie also delves into the complicated history between Tashi, Art, and Patrick. But the trio unexpectedly reunite years later when Art is feeling down and Tashi decides to boost his confidence by signing him up for a tennis event.

Little did she know that Art's opponent is none other than Patrick, his old friend turned rival.

The movie takes us on a journey through their tangled past, exploring the reasons behind their strained relationship. It reveals how the men first met as kids at a tennis camp but alot happened since then, including Tashi altering the dynamics of their once formidable friendship.

There's a flashback to a time when the trio were very close, almost too close. Imagine a motel room during a tournament, where Tashi ends up in a steamy three-way make-out session with both men.

The chemistry between the trio is intense, blurring the lines between friendship, rivalry and romance.

As tensions rise, secrets are revealed and emotions run high. The film keeps us guessing about Tashi's true intentions and the depths of her relationships with Art and Patrick.

Meanwhile, Art remains loyal to Tashi, despite the unresolved tension between her and his enemy.

There are scenes of the two men facing off on the tennis court, charged with competitive energy and a reflection of their macho posturing. They battle it out for Tashi's affection, each trying to prove himself as the alpha male.

Director Guadagnino doesn't hold back in exploring the complex dynamics between the characters, leaving us intrigued and wanting more. The film is a roller-coaster of emotions, showcasing the raw and untamed connections that drive the characters.

“Challengers” brilliantly captures the ebb and flow of these relationships, mirroring the unpredictable nature of a tennis match. The film’s structure, with its non-linear storytelling and frequent flashbacks, adds depth and keeps the audience guessing.

Justin Kuritzkes’ screenplay and Marco Costa’s sharp editing also creates a narrative that’s as intricate as it is compelling.

The film’s score, crafted by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, pulses with relentless energy, infusing the scenes with a techno-edge that perfectly complements the high-stakes atmosphere of the tennis matches.

It’s a modern twist on the traditional orchestral score, adding yet another layer of excitement to the film.

Despite earning widespread praise, “Challengers” has been labelled as being too ambitious for its own good. It does occasionally trip over its own genius, with a final act that feels a bit bloated and an ending doesn’t bring much closure as it leaves you feeling slightly out of sync with the rest of the plot.

It’s a movie that, much like a nail-biting tennis match, keeps you hooked from start to finish, always wondering who will win in the end.

In the end, “Challengers” is a bold and audacious film that doesn’t just play the game — it reinvents it. So grab your popcorn, settle in and prepare for a wild ride through the courts of love, ambition and raw, unfiltered passion.

∎ “Challengers” is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.