Chevalier (2015, Athina Rachel Tsangari)

Deadpan comedy with a pretty mild punchline, though I suppose it’s about society/masculinity at large. A bunch of rich-seeming dudes on a yachting trip are one-upping each other, until one proposes a playful competition, and another ups it to a total competition, where they will rank each other on all manners of things, personality and behavior and performance, to decide which man is “the best in general.” The employees, ship captain, the cooks, get caught up in their own sad version of this, treating it like a reality show, rooting for favorites until they start judging each other as well.

Our guys skip stones (with the stone collection of Dimitris, the out-of-shape, hopeless one), they build Ikea shelves competitively, they listen to each other calling home to see who has the most supportive family, and there’s a literal dick-measuring contest. They make deals and cheat, and eventually I’ve got only Dimitris to root for. If they bother to tell us who “wins,” it’s underplayed and I’ve forgotten.

Samuel La France in Cinema Scope:

The director resists the urge to escalate the film’s contest towards an overwrought climax … keeping a potentially volatile premise on a relatively even keel. Chevalier is rich with bickering and petty squabbles, but the film is sustained thanks to the men’s ability to preserve (for the most part) a modicum of respect toward one another, and toward the rules of their absurd game — though this gentlemanly honour is very clearly strategic, since encouraging and reassuring others about their shortcomings is as important as hiding one’s own in a game where each participant is on double duty as both player and judge.

L-R: Christos, Doctor, Yannis, Josef, Yorgos, Dimitris

The waiter stars in the new Pity… Josef was in Attenberg, Yorgos appeared alongside Tsangari in Before Midnight, and Christos is a musician, known as “the only true pop star in Greece,” who did the Owen Wilson part in the Greek release of Cars.

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