Challengers | Picturehouse Recommends

One of the most anticipated films of the year is almost here - Zendaya stars in Luca Guadagnino's scintillating tennis drama.

Hannah Strong

24 Apr 24

Luca Guadagnino

Release Date
26 April


Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, Mike Faist


Running Time
132 mins

It's game, set and match for Luca Guadagnino, whose latest film, Challengers, takes place in the high-stakes world of professional tennis.

After bewitching audiences with Bones And All, Suspiria and Call Me By Your Name, Guadagnino joins forces with screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes and an all-star cast composed of Euphoria and Dune star Zendaya, The Crown's Josh O'Connor and West Side Story breakout Mike Faist for this intense new sports story that balances the themes of desire and ambition.

We got our first glimpse of the film via a bold trailer set to Rihanna's pulse- pounding anthem, 'S&M'. It promises high stakes and high drama.

Zendaya plays former tennis prodigy Tashi Duncan, who meets fellow tennis players and rivals Art (Faist) and Patrick (O'Connor) as teenagers, where they compete on and off the court for Tashi's affection.

After a devastating injury prematurely ends Tashi's promising career, she marries Art and becomes his no-nonsense coach. Years later, with Art on a losing streak, Tashi is determined to get her husband's head back in the game and enters him into a coveted challenger event – only to discover he'll be facing off against his former friend and her ex-lover.

This scintillating premise hints at a reunion as explosive as the one in Guadagnino's 2015 drama A Bigger Splash, complete with some significant star power in the form of its central trio.

As his profuse filmography proves, though, Luca Guadagnino doesn't just focus on casting leading acting talent – he's recruited an exciting team of artisans behind the scenes too, including fashion designer Jonathan Anderson as costume designer.

He also reunites with Academy Award-winning musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who composed the score for Bones And All, and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, who shot Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria.

With such an impressive team behind the scenes and Guadagnino's keen eye for detail and style, Challengers promises to be one of the most exquisite films of the year.

The screenwriter, Justin Kuritzkes, is best known as a playwright and novelist, and gained popularity as a YouTuber back in 2011. He's also married to Celine Song, whose sensational drama, Past Lives, was one of the best films of 2023. His 2016 play, The Sensuality Party, focused on sexual politics between a group of college students, so audiences can expect a similar focus on the racy rules of attraction here.

Of course, Challengers is also likely to appeal to tennis fans. It is released in cinemas just before Wimbledon kicks off, so there couldn't be a better time to get in the mood.

The genre clash of sports meeting contemporary romance throws back to the likes of Love & Basketball and Jerry Maguire, and with the effortlessly charismatic Zendaya in the central role, Challengers builds on an already banner year for the actress, following her performance in Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi sequel Dune: Part Two.

Guadagnino has broken his mould with Challengers, proving to be a wonderfully versatile filmmaker as he moves across television, short films and features to make this new and intoxicatingly enjoyable experience. To achieve this whilst employing his signature style and originality is a mastery.

So, if you're in the mood for some drama on and off the court, look no further than Challengers. It's guaranteed to be one of the hottest – and most passionately entertaining– films this spring.  Hannah Strong

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Challengers is in cinemas from 26 April Book Now!