CHEVALIER Review: Gifted Violinist Takes Center Stage
Kelvin Harrison Jr., Samara Weaving, and Lucy Boynton star in the biographical drama, directed by Stephen Williams.
I don't say this about a lot of films, but the portrait of little-known yet brilliant composer Joseph Bologne, a.k.a. Chevalier, is a wonderful excavation into the life of a young man who was a descendant of an African slave.
His white father sent him to a school where he could excel in fencing and violin. All of that, however, comes crashing down on him with the turn of the Revolution and rising racial tensions.
This film is a quintessential masterclass in acting and raw emotion that could only be found in Kelvin Harrison Jr's performance as the titular character. His performance resonates within us all, showing the audience what the true underdog story entails. Viewers can see the pain and agony beyond the veil of his eyelids as he struggles to combat racial bigotry and intolerance in his country.
Samara Weaving does a lovely job of holding her own as Chevalier's lover, Marie-Josephine. Her deep and forbidden affair with the talented and brilliant musician crosses boundaries that threaten to destroy their relationship. Her gentle tenderness matches that of any high-class aristocratic woman of the era with a sense of beauty and elegance.
The film has plenty of talent on screen but we cannot forgo the talent behind the camera. While he may not be a definitive household name, director Stephen Williams has done work on the hit ABC series Lost and Watchmen. Williams elaborates on the story of the gifted violinist with such vision that he articulates every chapter of his biography, without any scene ever feeling out of place or drawn out. Knowing how a lot of movies add unnecessary details for the sake of screen time, I applaud this film for trimming the fat and sticking to what was important.
Chevalier looks to be a frontrunner at next year's Academy Awards ceremony. Its powerful story and magnificent cast are some of the components that easily ground this beautifully-crafted story. It is an enthralling story that few people know about, and proves to be a bold take on a historical figure who does not get the credit he deserves.
The film opens Friday, April 21, exclusively in movie theaters, via Searchlight Pictures. Visit the official site for more information.
- Stephen Williams
- Stefani Robinson
- Samara Weaving
- Lucy Boynton
- Minnie Driver