In Challengers, Zendaya’s Unapologetically Ambitious Character Changes the Love Triangle Game

This story contains spoilers for Challengers. If you haven’t had a chance to watch yet, check out our spoiler-free review.

Love triangles are a trope as old as time, but Challengers the central tangle offers a new twist to the cliché. We always have two boys trying to compete for a girl’s attention, but she’s not looking for the best to fulfill a white picket fence fantasy. Zendaya’s Tashi Duncan wants greatness. She demands it of herself and of those who wish to be in her company. It should come as no surprise that a Luca Guadagnino film is more about the relationship between Patrick (Josh O’Connor) and Art (Mike Faist) than their relationship with Tashi, but the dynamic works because Tashi doesn’t not. I don’t like either one. She loves tennis. And it’s that the love that pushes all three of them toward the emotional connection they seek.

The film bounces between timelines, following the trio through college and their professional careers, examining their shifting power dynamics as Patrick and Art compete in the adult timeline for their chance to compete in the US Open. It’s so refreshing to see a female character, especially at the center of a romantic film, whose primary motivation isn’t to find a husband and start a family. Tashi is never shy about what motivates her. Art and Patrick are just too distracted by their own dreams and desires for her to listen to what she’s saying.

She explains this to them after the duo sequester her on a beach after celebrating her victory in the junior tournament at the beginning of the film. “You don’t know what tennis is,” she informs the boys, “It’s a relationship.” She goes on to explain how her previous match was like being in love and that she and her opponent “went to a beautiful place together”. The peak of a perfect volley is what Tashi chases, while Art and Patrick spend the film trying to replace that rush for her.

Patrick thinks he is the first winner when he beats Art in their own junior championship final the day after the beach party and gets Tashi’s number, but the fact is that Tashi’s attraction to Art at this point in the film has nothing to do with how he feels. about her. She instantly reprimands him when she realizes he’s trying to manipulate her – “What makes you think I want someone to be in love with me?” – but Art strives to become a better tennis player while Patrick sails to the bottom. rankings on the pro circuit. This is why Tashi has fun with Art’s antics. When Patrick asks to stop talking about tennis, Tashi loses interest and their relationship instantly implodes. A few hours later, she tears out her knee and Art is there to dry her tears and pick up the pieces of her broken heart.

With her personal aspirations destroyed, Tashi turns to coaching. She can’t be away from the game. Patrick temporarily fades into the background and Art becomes the driving force behind Tashi’s new dream. He realizes that positioning himself as the best boyfriend is not a good idea, so he swears that he will be the best tennis player. This is the moment when Art seems to understand Tashi the most, but it is also his downfall.

The tactic of art works for a while. He and Tashi marry and have a child. They have a foundation and a lot of money. He has become a very good professional tennis player, almost great even, but he gets tired of it and finally wants to quit before his promise to Tashi to make her dream come true. When Tashi realizes he is giving up, her affection wanes.

Challengers is not a film for people who have a weak stomach from infidelity. If this movie was about Patrick or Art finding love with Tashi, then maybe how she bounces between the two would be more important. But there’s a reason you see the moment where she agrees to coach Art but you never see the footage of their wedding. Art is unhappy that Tashi doesn’t find their married life enough, but Tashi never wants to be the prize. His mission throughout the film is to get either of these men to want greatness for themselves.

She breaks up with Patrick in the first half of the film because he doesn’t want to talk about tennis and she considers him an unserious person. She cheats on Art when he announces that he wants to quit the game before winning the open, but even the infidelity is aimed at making Patrick lose the match against Art so that Tashi doesn’t have to see his dream once again. no longer postponed. She isn’t interested in any of them when they don’t respect her love, and her love is excellent at gambling.

Many people may accuse Tashi of being unlikable because she doesn’t reciprocate these men’s affections, but, in truth, she plays them the same way they play her. Even though she may not be in love with them, she still cares about them. She makes sacrifices for them, especially for Art; she encourages them; she inspires them. They just aren’t able to give her what she really wants in return, and this frustration turns into resentment towards everyone involved.

Each of these relationships comes with conditions. Patrick and Art both love Tashi as long as she makes them glow or feel better about themselves; Tashi loves them so much that they strive to be the best after losing what she loves most when she injures her knee. Art and Patrick volunteer to be the new vessel of her dream at different parts of the film, and when they fail to do it for her, she doesn’t just see them as disrespectful, she sees them as helpless. Ultimately, they all use each other for their own gains. What’s so special about Challengers is that no one, even Tashi, gets punished for it. In fact, they all get their comeuppance in the final moments of the film.

We’re so used to movies that prioritize functional relationships as the end goal. The destination in Challengers is a perfect tennis volley, but it’s a metaphor for pushing your limits. When you commit wholeheartedly to something, you can become something bigger than yourself. They’re a trio of messy, flawed characters, but even they can find magic when they let go of their pretensions and put their bare souls on the line. It’s actually inspiring to think that any of us , messy, imperfect beings, can make real connection when we let go of fear and resentment and just hit the damn ball.

The climax of the film takes place during the finals of the Challengers Tournament, culminating with Patrick and Art competing for a spot at the US Open. By the time they reach match point, Art knows that Patrick and Tashi slept together the night before and Patrick knows that Tashi is not going to leave Art for him. And none of that matters. It is here that Guadagnino shows his visionary style as a director.

This final sequence is tense and hypnotic as Art and Patrick trade the ball back and forth. It’s a symphony of grunts, the squeak of sneakers on asphalt and the hollow shock of a rubber tennis ball making contact with a racket. It’s sweaty but also sexy as Art and Patrick finally reach the level of tennis that Tashi had waxed poetic about on the beach years before. They understand each other perfectly, as does everyone who watches them. It’s like they’re in love or like they don’t exist. They’re going to a really beautiful place together. Art comes to the net and jumps for the final shot, slams the ball and collapses into Patrick’s arms.

They kiss in the euphoria of the moment. We don’t even see who wins the match, because at this point in the story, that’s not what matters. This is the first time Art and Patrick understand what Tashi is pursuing since they’ve known her. The resentment and passive aggressiveness of the past ten years melted away and the former best friends were able to connect in a way they never had before. They never would have reached this moment with another opponent, and they never would have allowed themselves to go there if Tashi hadn’t pushed them both. They were finally able to keep their promise and everyone wins.

Challengers is now playing in theaters.

Gn entert
News Source : www.ign.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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