Challengers Hits Match Point As It Arrives On Blu-ray and DVD

Get ready to serve as tensions run high with Challengers acing its way onto Blu-ray, DVD, and into your living room for a grand slam. Audiences can also buy or rent the film digitally. Like a number of MGM Studios releases, the home video release is sans bonus features.

Tashi Duncan (Zendaya) is a former tennis prodigy and might have had it all if not for a knee injury while playing for Stanford. She’s now coaching tennis these days, including her husband, Art Donaldson (Mike Faist). Unfortunately for Art, he’s not playing well and currently on losing streak. Tashi decides that the best thing for Art is to enter into a challenger competition where he faces none other than his former best friend, Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor). Adding on another layer to their history is that Patrick and Tashi used to date. Oh, we’ll get to see their history play out since the film takes a non-linear approach to the narrative. After starting out at the present day (okay, 2019 if we want to be more precise), the film volleys back and forth, much like a tennis match.

The journey takes them back to when all Tashi met both Art and Patrick. Art and Patrick were roommates at their tennis academy. While Patrick decides to go pro, Art opts to attend college at Stanford. Meanwhile, Tashi knows more about them then they know about themselves. Eventually, she also becomes both the anchor and pivot of their lives. Whether it’s marrying Art and having a child together or whatever the case may be, Tashi has all the power in the decisions being made. As their lives move on, Art and Patrick’s friendship becomes estranged. Neither of them talk to each other even as professional commitments take them to the same places at the same time. Because of course it does, right? It’s just another way to add to the drama of it all.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter that filmmaker Luca Guadagnino didn’t know much about tennis. The sports aspect can take care of itself with a solid DP and especially editor. You just need to know when to frame the scene in a particular way. As long as the actors know what they’re doing, the rest of it will take care of itself. Regardless, he brings his own style to the film and it works. Okay, the non-linear narrative might not exactly work for everyone but it is what it is. I just know how some people can be with films that keep going back and forth. What helps this one is that they have different hairstyles, etc. when traveling back in time to 13 years earlier.

Interestingly, screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes’s research into Arthur Ashe Stadium–home of the U.S. Open–led to his watching a match between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka in 2019. According to the production notes:

“I had not been much of a tennis fan, but my family is full of tennis fans. Watching Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka in the finals together, there was a controversial call about Williams receiving coaching from the sidelines. I had never heard of that, but it clicked with me as an intensely cinematic situation.”

Throw in a classic love story between three tennis players and the rest is history.

There’s a good chance that we’ll be hearing a lot more about the score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross during awards season. The duo have a way of making any film better–look at their work on The Social Network! I’m not saying that this film is going to become a classic for the ages but you trust me in that you won’t forget the techno and electronica score any time soon. It’s definitely not the type of score that one would expect in a sports drama. Luca’s approach for the score was to make it one where people will want to dance. Pay attention to the last few minutes of the film before the credits start rolling!

Challengers isn’t so much a sports drama with romance in as much as it is a work of art.

DIRECTOR: Luca Guadagnino
SCREENWRITER: Justin Kuritzkes
CAST: Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, Mike Faist

MGM released Challengers in theaters on April 26, 2024. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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