UH's lifestyle and entertainment magazine - by students, for students

Tennis. A sport known for the player’s backstory, their upbringing, what brought them to the sport and the adversity they’ve experienced within it. There is a suspenseful fire and intensity within the overlooked game. So many emotions from inside and outside the court.

We’re brought to understand the erotic aspects and emotional explanations not often acknowledged within a sports league like this one in the movie “Challengers.”

There will be spoilers of the movie as this review goes on, so make sure to watch before you read.

“Challengers” follows the event as well as the history of the movie’s main players, Tashi Duncan, Patrick Zweig and Art Donaldson. Patrick, a somewhat washed-up player trying to break into the top 100, and Art, a duck-to-swan type of player needing that final slam title.

They are viciously facing off in a tournament playing as if there’s unfinished business as we’re taken through their former partnership along with Tashi, the decisive piece to their love triangle, to explain their unfinished business.

Art and Patrick had been attached at the hip since they hit double digits. Meeting in a boarding school that concentrated on their tennis ability in order to make them champions, they became doubles partners which made them even more devoted to each other and the game. Under the duo “Fire and Ice” the audience is meant to guess who is who. Some say Art is the docile ice and Patrick is the unambiguous fire.

Art is a well-off boy with a love and talent for tennis who wants to take a slow-burn career approach. Patrick has offered to let him win an earlier match, seeming to pull most of the weight during their doubles match. All throughout the movie, viewers can see how somewhat secretive Art is with keeping his thoughts, feelings and aspirations to his chest. Not wanting to tell or acknowledge his first stimulating experience, which was at the hands of Patrick, to Tashi. After speaking to Tashi for the first time he wanted to get to know her in more ways than one. Ignoring any prior experience he’s had.

Patrick is quite confident. A prodigy who can’t continue the momentum of his prime. His friendship with Art is deeply personal, from their shared pivotal moments and intimate demeanor. As suggested in the past and shown in the present, Patrick is a sensual person who is very honest about his flaws and desires. He’s passionate about the people he’s attracted to, their personalities as well as physicality.

Art loves that about him, he’s intuitive and assertive, a perfect commander. Yet, once he meets Tashi that timidness quickly turns into jealousy. The way Patrick pays attention to Tashi and vice versa awakens a possessiveness in him.

Rather than confronting his feelings for Patrick, Art forces himself to bury them. Tashi is similar to him in their passion for the sport and offers guidance. Choosing tradition over his desires, Art picks Tashi over Patrick and a family over a career, if he cannot have Patrick no one can. He plants lies and insecurities in both of them causing their breakup and unintentionally Tashi’s injury.

Director Luca Guagningnio’s stories revolve around queerness and sex as seen in, “Call Me By Your Name,” “We Are Who We Are” and most recently “Bones And All.” Tashi describes tennis as a relationship, the sport acting as a sensual performance that she enjoys watching. Not wanting to ‘homewreck’ the boy’s tense relationship but provoking it to get a show.

Tashi Duncan loves every detail of the sport, the affair on the court and the passionate devoted recognition she gets playing it. That’s what she enjoys about the boys, their admiration for each other as well as for her. So when she’s told by Art that Patrick isn’t in love with her and with him telling her that he’s not her fan, she hears that he’s not passionate about her and that she isn’t good enough at her sport for him to be so.

Come to find out that tennis equals sex or a relationship. The movie is about how deep Patrick and Art’s relationship goes as well as what Tashi’s willing to do to see a good tennis match (relationship) play out, it develops even more questions.

Why is tennis Tashi’s only understanding of a relationship or love? Is there a parental or upbringing as an explanation? Why is Art so coy? Why didn’t Patrick seek revenge for Art’s betrayal? Was asking Tashi to be his coach, Patrick doing so? Did everyone really get what they wanted from each other with that ending?

So many questions on needs versus desires.

[email protected]

About the Author

Related Posts

Vampire Weekend played 713 Music Hall for the fifth stop on the tour of their fifth album, “Only...

The world-renowned sport of Formula 1 is filled with thrillers and classics, ranging from the...

The highly anticipated “Iron Flame” by Rebecca Yarros, is a thrilling sequel to “The Fourth Wing”...