Sunday, September 25, 2022

Chevalier (2022)


I heard that Marie-Antoinette is made to be the enemy in this movie. I hope that is not true, since she had the Chevalier as her music teacher. From Yahoo:

For a man who was very nearly lost from history — forcefully erased both during his time and long after he’d passed away — Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges still managed to leave quite a footprint. Good luck choosing which of his many accomplishments to recognize first: his prodigious fencing talent, his exploits as the colonel of the first all-Black regiment in Europe, his incredible skill as a virtuoso violinist, the list goes on and on. In Stephen Williams’ “Chevalier,” it’s Boulogne’s awe-inspiring work as a composer — so talented that he was often referred to as the “Black Mozart, an even funnier moniker considering the pair were contemporaries — that forms the center of

Born in the French “overseas department” of Guadeloupe in 1745, Boulogne’s life was complicated from the start: he was born the son of a wealthy planter and an enslaved teenager who served as his own maid, and though his father acknowledged him and even supported him, the younger Boulogne was always doomed to be an outsider no matter where he was. As Williams’ film — only the director’s second after his 1995 debut “Soul Survivor” and an enviable run of TV directing gigs — kicks off, our on-screen Joseph (played by the always-electric Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is busy beating back his outsider status with insane talent and a brash attitude to match. (Read more.)

From The Playlist:

For a string player, the Chevalier’s pretty brassy, well-matched to Harrison’s snorting-bull volatility. He’s brazenly confident in his own abilities, left with no other choice than extreme self-assurance in defiance of a world aligned against him. His accomplishments and reputation caught the eye of Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton), just one of the many, many white women shown to lose their minds the instant they make eye contact with this hunky virtuoso. Another was named Marie-Josephine (Samara Weaving), a general’s wife and opera sensation said to have collaborated with the Chevalier on more than just a show.

While their affair created a major scandal after a gossip columnist broke the story in the factual record, Robinson’s script takes its tragic outcome one step further into the realm of emotional button-pushing. Across all these happenings, including subplots with his long-lost mother and his engagement with the rabble-rousing proletariat, the typical biopic issue arises; these events seem sequential rather than causal, a series of things that happened which must be shoved into the mold of a story. (Read more.) 

From The Wrap:

The story then resets to Joseph’s childhood, with his father, plantation owner George Bologne (Jim High, “Knightfall”), dropping him off at a music conservatory. Headmaster La Boissière (Ben Bradshaw, “The Office” UK) is reluctant to enroll Joseph, a mixed-race child of a slave, born out of wedlock. The optics seem to be the issue, though La Boissière does bring up the valid point that Joseph will have a hard time fitting in. The youngster manages to get through the door on the strength of his playing, but he must endure his peers’ brutal beatings.

In a fencing match, Joseph impresses Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton), who in turn anoints him Chevalier de Saint Georges. His quick rise to prominence affords him fame, wealth and a libertine lifestyle, but his ambition seemingly knows no bounds. He has eyes for opera singer Marie-Josephine (Samara Weaving), who is married to the powerful Marquis Montalembert (Marton Csokas, “The Last Duel”).

Joseph also vies to become the head of the Paris Opera and challenges his main competition to a duel of composing the superior opera. The chevalier soon finds out that talent alone can only carry him so far in a society that remains focused on the color of his skin. Despite his association with Marie Antoinette, there are limits to how much she is willing to extend herself in the face of her waning popularity. (Read more.) 


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