Giannis Drakopoulos, Kostas Filippoglou, Yiorgos Kendros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis, Nikos Orphanos, Makis Papadimitriou
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…a cutting case study of the modern man.
Since ancient times, Greece has been associated with established standards of masculinity through heroic myths, epic poets, sculpture and of course, the Olympic Games. In this modern-day Greek film with an all-male team of actors, director Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg) revisits this Western perception of how to be an ideal man through the lens of the Greek Weird Wave.
A group of 6 middle-aged men spend their floating holiday on a luxurious yacht in the middle of the Aegean Sea and come up with the idea of a competitive game – coined ‘Chevalier’ – to decide who is ‘The Best In General’. They challenge each other to conventional masculine tasks and go as far as judging the way one sleeps, drinks morning coffee to the size of one’s dick, of course.
The winner will be rewarded with a chevalier signet ring by the Doctor, who is more or less the patriarchal figure of the group. Gradually, their personal traits become clearer and clearer.
Christo and Yannis are handsome, neat and successful, both related to the Doctor’s daughter. The former is athletic and possesses a desired male physique, whereas the latter is passive and takes pride in his erection size. In contrast, Yargos and Josef, who are close friends and long-time business partners with the Doctor, are portrayed in a much shaggier way. Josef is a man of high self-esteem who gets offended easily, whereas Yorgos is open-minded and treats everyone equally, including Dimitris, the last member of the group who has a childish and timid nature. Each of the men has their unique characteristics, which keeps us intrigued and guessing as to who will win in the end.
Chevalier’s biggest achievement is that through this gaming situation and the resultant black humour, social stereotypes and norms of masculinity are questioned. Athina Rachel Tsangari’s aesthetic of a grey colour grade, which removes much of the vibrancy of the characters’ faces and the endless Aegean, combined with the claustrophobia of the confined yacht location and the foreboding soundtrack, creates a lingering sense of tense competitiveness and even violence among the men, turning the deceptive humour of the set-up into a cutting case study of the modern man.