Skip to Content

Chevalier Review: Now That Is How You Open A Film

Chevalier starts off with such a strong scene that it ultimately hurts the flow of the rest of the film. Thankfully the final scene is just as good.

Chevalier movie review

Not many people know the story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, which is what this film sets out to correct. Based on the life of the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner turned impressive composer and violinist, Chevalier introduces viewers to a man they should know about. 

Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars as the title character. His performance is one for the ages as he will immediately command attention with a hilariously fun opening sequence in which he challenges Mozart to a musical dual. The two go toe-to-toe in what can best be described as the first rap battle, and it is everything. 

Unfortunately this raises the bar and sets expectations that simply cannot be met. While the rest of the movie is not quite boring, it is nowhere near as entertaining and exciting as the first scene. In other words, Chevalier peaks very early on. Thankfully, however, the final sequence is just as powerful, but in a totally different way. 

This time Joseph Bologne delivers the side eye to rival all side eyes. Viewers will want to jump out of their seats and cheer, it’s that fantastic an ending. He isn’t always the nicest guy, but he is still quite easy to root for — especially in the final few moments of the movie.

Chevalier Samara Weaving

The middle isn’t all bad. Joseph forms a relationship with the talented Marie-Josephine (Samara Weaving), whom he recruits to be the star of his opera. The two have incredible on screen chemistry, making it impossible to not root for them. Whenever the they are on screen together, you can’t help but smile. Well, at least most of the time — things do get a bit dark at one point. 

Chevalier isn’t just a love story, however, and here is where it falters. The true history of France at this time is full of turmoil. The people were fighting for their rights and their lives, and so a revolution was born. Some words are very difficult to hear, especially when Joseph is dismissed and treated poorly time and time again because of the color of his skin. 

Of course this is what it was truly like back then, and unfortunately still is like for certain people, so it makes sense that this is such a major theme throughout the film. It just doesn’t always work — especially when it feels glossed over. 

Still, Joseph’s strength and boastfulness shine though, largely in part due to Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s performance. He brings this man to life and will have many viewers leaving the theater and looking him up, eager to know all about the man who was clearly so very charismatic. Yes, some of his accomplishments were lost for a time, however they are being rediscovered now.

The costumes are captivating and the story is intriguing when it is focused. There are times it veers off causing a bit of a lull, however Kelvin’s performance, and scenes with Samara, steal the show time and time again.

Chevalier movie review

Kelvin Harrison Jr. in the film CHEVALIER. Photo by Larry Horricks. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Overall Thoughts

Chevalier has one of the best opening scenes of a film that we have seen in a while. It rounds itself out with a near perfect ending as well. The issue lies in the middle of the movie, which finds itself trying frantically to keep the audiences attention, and mostly failing. 

While the subject of this movie seems to have led an interesting life, Chevalier peaks far too early due to the incredible opening sequence. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some fantastic moments in the middle of the movie, most of which revolve around Samara Weaving and her remarkable chemistry with
Kelvin Harrison Jr. 

When the movie is a love story, it is a touching one. But when it tries to focus on the start of the French Revolution there are many missteps that cause it to feel, quite frankly, a bit boring. That said, the final scene is a powerful one, rounding it out in a way that makes it worth watching. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

NEXT: Beau Is Afraid Is Completely and Utterly Bizarre

Chevalier movie poster

About Chevalier

Inspired by the incredible true story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a tour de force performance) rises to improbable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, complete with an ill-fated love affair and a falling out with Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton) and her court.

Cast: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Samara Weaving, Lucy Boynton, Marton Csokas, Alex Fitzalan, Minnie Driver

Chevalier comes to theaters April 21st.

HCA Gradebook: “Chevalier” – Hollywood Critics Association

Saturday 22nd of April 2023

[…] Tessa Smith says, “Chevalier has one of the best opening scenes of a film that we have seen in a while. It rounds itself out with a near perfect ending as well. The issue lies in the middle of the movie, which finds itself trying frantically to keep the audiences attention, and mostly failing. When the movie is a love story, it is a touching one. But when it tries to focus on the start of the French Revolution there are many missteps that cause it to feel, quite frankly, a bit boring. That said, the final scene is a powerful one, rounding it out in a way that makes it worth watching.”Grade: B […]

Comments are closed.