Men’s attitudes are put under the microscope in this film written and directed by a woman.



Makis Papadimitriou and Yorgos Pirpassopoulos 


When the 2010 Greek film Attenberg was released here it received many lukewarm reviews, but personally I liked it and acclaimed its writer/director Athina Rachel Tsangari as an accomplished and very individual filmmaker. This new film of hers (her third, but the second was not released here) has won much more praise in some quarters, although I have also heard of dismissive reactions to it. Undoubtedly, it boasts an ensemble cast who know exactly what they are doing and, even if I found the direction less striking than that of Attenberg, it needs to be stressed that Tsangari’s approach here is absolutely consistent throughout.


Even so, I am amazed that Chevalier was acclaimed as the Best Film in last year's London Film Festival because I find its material so limited. The film offers no flashbacks but concerns itself exclusively with a doctor (Yorgos Kendros) and five male acquaintances whom he takes along on a yacht for a fishing trip in the Aegean Sea. The action is set aboard this vessel on its homeward trip to Athens during which the six men engage in competitive games which, taking account of anything and everything, will pit each one against the others to decide on points who is the best and thus the winner of a signet ring, the chevalier.


Late on this comedy includes some broader humour (and, indeed, the credit for prosthetics can be taken as a reference to an erect penis), but for the most part this is minimal cinema with minimal laughs, although it is possible that Greek audiences being better attuned to the flavour and the detail may find more to be amused by. In my own case the moment that I relished most was the formal announcement over the ship’s loudspeaker that at the next meal cheesecake would be replaced by lemon pie. It could be said that the controlled tone (the film is never vicious in its humorous detail) adds to the power with which Chevalier suggests that oneupmanship is endemic in all males and there is a very neat shift at the close to underline this notion. Nevertheless, when Polanski’s Knife in the Water (1962) dealt with male rivalry on a boat it was far more incisive as well as being shorter. Here we have six men to study as we seek to identify which is which, but Tsangari’s film seems so caught up in minutiae that it never feels compelling despite the believability of the characters and the clear delivery of its thesis.  




Cast: Yorgos Kendros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis, Makis Papadimitriou, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Sakis Rouvas, Yannis Drakopoulos, Nikos Orfanos, Kostas Filippoglou, Nikolaos Mardakis.

Dir Athina Rachel Tsangari, Pro Maria Hatzakou, Screenplay Efthymis Filippou and Athina Rachel Tsangari, Ph Christos Karamanis, Pro Des Anna Georgiadou, Ed Matt Johnson and Yorgos Mavropsaridis, Music Marilena Orfanou, Costumes Vassila Rozana.

Faliro House & Haos Film/Nova & The Match Factory/The Greek Film Centre-StudioCanal.
105 mins. Greece. 2015. Rel: 22 July 2016. Cert. 18