Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 47m
Director(s): Stephen Williams
Writer(s): Stefani Robinson
Cast: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Samara Weaving, Lucy Boynton, Marton Csokas, Alex Fitzalan, Minnie Driver
Where To Watch: In theaters starting Friday, April 21, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: A tale as old as… well, more like a tale lost to time. Immerse yourself in the fascinating story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, as CHEVALIER paints a picture of this composer's life that few knew existed in the modern day. Kelvin Harrison Jr. takes on the role of Bologne, who rises from birth as the illegitimate son of an enslaved African and a French plantation owner to become an acclaimed violinist-composer, fencer, and French aristocrat, defying societal norms and facing racism along the way.
Stephen Williams' direction and Stefani Robinson's script follow Bologne's journey as he tries to make a name for himself in a world where few are willing to embrace his talents all because he doesn’t look like them (I guess times don’t change too much.) Throughout his quest, he has to overcome rivals and a doomed romance that goes against the grain. The strength of this film is in the story it's telling, not necessarily in the movie itself. That may sound odd, but the importance of telling this story can’t be understated; this piece of history needed its moment in the spotlight.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. delivers an incredible performance as Bologne, showcasing his undeniable talent as an actor. He makes this role his own, captivating the audience; I don’t think there was a moment in the film when I looked at him as anyone other than the titular character. He didn’t feel like Kelvin Harrison Jr. was playing a role; he felt like Bologne had come to life.
CHEVALIER brings to light the intentional erasure of Saint-Georges from history, revealing his unwavering determination to triumph over adversity. The film seamlessly intertwines Bologne's ascent to fame with the ongoing battle for justice and equality, a struggle that continues to resonate today. The dedication of the team that created this film is to be commended; without their drive and passion, this story may be lost to time forever.
While CHEVALIER may deviate from historical accuracy at times, it does so without the intent to damage the story but to make the film more engaging. Everything about the film's visuals was fantastic, from the excellent set design, gorgeous cinematography, and exquisite period-accurate costumes. Sure, it was odd that Fench aristocrats were speaking English, but when you look beyond that, the film was everything it was meant to be. On that note, it's essential to mention that the movie I saw in the trailers and the final product differed. The more I think about that, the more I’m okay with it. I generally try to avoid trailers because they can ruin the experience.
CHEVALIER tackles critical themes, such as art, equality, and the erasure of Black artists from history; with a sense of urgency and depth, it connects past and present struggles for justice and representation by examining Bologne's accomplishments through a contemporary lens.
In conclusion, CHEVALIER provides a captivating look into the life of an exceptional individual. Despite a few imperfections, the movie stands as a testament to Joseph Bologne's perseverance and talent, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the challenges faced by artists of color throughout history.
For more reviews, please visit - https://linktr.ee/Overlyhonestmoviereviews for more info.
Follow me on Letterboxd, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Find my social media accounts on most platforms simply by searching Overly Honest Movie Reviews.
I’m always happy to hear from my readers; please say hi or send me any questions about movies.
[photo courtesy of SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES]