Based on the true story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, who rises to heights in French society as a composer before an ill-fated love affair.
Kelvin Harrison Jr, Samara Weaving, Lucy Boynton, Ronke Adekolujo, Marton Csokas, Minnie Driver, Sian Clifford & Alex Fitzalan.
Chevalier is another musician biography epic that will go under everyone’s radars. The easiest praise is towards how brilliantly composed the film is & how delicate each scene feels with this music present, particularly complimented by its production design.
Unfortunately, apparent from his first opening line, Kelvin’s posh accent is quite distracting. Despite this, his overall performance is certainly one of the films highlights. The balance between confidence and fear in all environments he’s presented with left a good mark on the film and helped with his inconsistent accent. Along with the supporting cast delivering torn, empathetic and engaging performances. Although, Samara Weaving does seem a little miscast, despite her good performance.
The directing & cinematography could have gone a little further with its imagery in such a posh, gorgeous world with stylistic infrastructure that would make for wonderfully framed shots. However, while the camerawork is admirable and the film is consistent with its visuals, it would certainly benefit from being shot on film for more natural beautiful frames.
The editing is a big compliment to the music, often using the violin as a tool for building suspense or montage storytelling, highlighting the beauty of music in such a disguised cruel world. Each cut has intent and purpose that hammer home each complex emotion present.
Narratively it can be rather slow, prioritising more modern conversations over more traditional ones. Underdeveloped romance can pull the film back a touch, but still engaging. It also tends to restrict itself in storytelling and diving deeper into the more emotional aspects of the story through the 12A/PG13 rating. It’s more gritty feel would positively impact how powerful the story is and how incredible Joseph was in such a mean world.
Overall, Chevalier is an important and beautiful story about one of our greatest composers. The music & editing are certainly the films highlights, accompanied by almost perfect performances by the entire cast. It’s one of the most overlooked of the year.