Friday, August 5, 2016
MIFF Session #7: CHEVALIER
The next few days are mostly spent in conversation with one or another participants making notes openly. The expected penis length comparision takes place but so does a blood test and its results. There is a constant weave rather than an escalation which builds to a strange team approach to the constant competition that is both believable and pushed into absurdity. We are observing maleness but it's a maleness confined by a sense of civilisation and the old Cold War governor of Mutually Assured Destruction: any one of the players who broke into too much of a protest or an open attack would surely disqualify himself immediately. So the play is tense and subtle.
A Hollywood treatment of this would turn into a personal arms race ending with Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifiniakis aiming nuclear warheads at each other. But this is a movie by one of the people usually tagged with Greek Weird Wave in the tradition of Dogtooth or The Lobster. Labels are fun but really what we're seeing here is depth and observation. To understand that this behaviour would proceed without the context of the game is only part of our delight in watching it; the sense that the participants know this and use it as much as possible to their own advantage only adds spice.
Finally, these leaders of the community, formalising their natural competitiveness into the basis of what will surely be tighter and more serious contests in the future as the ring is contested each year, will only harden their sense of privilege. This time it was done with humour (constant, genuine, laugh-out-loud humour) soon enough even the humour will be part of the form and the game impossible to escape. It's this thought that stretches beyond the credits that this film has been forging from the titles. That's robust work.