Movie Review: Chevalier (2023)

Do you hear the peoples’ strings? A French Revolution set historical costume drama about a virtuoso violinist whose contributions to classical music had been heretofore lost to history, Chevalier (B+), directed by Stephen Williams, is old-fashioned entertainment with a twist. The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, Joseph Bologne. brilliantly portrayed by Kelvin Harrison Jr., rises to inconceivable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, dangerously liaising with a married woman (Samara Weaving) and Queen Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton). The women in the ensemble are uniformly strong (including a vamping Minnie Driver) and more than compensate for the supporting male performances, largely a predictably disapproving lot of prune faces. Although Williams won’t win any prizes for cinematic breakthroughs, he moves the story along briskly and frankly hits some operatic crescendos at times. In the lead role, Harrison commands his every sequence and commendably connotes his heartbreak of being caught between two worlds punctuated by the braggadocio of his public persona. It’s a rousing, crowd-pleasing biography with high relatability for those who liked Moulin Rouge or The Woman King, plus the music is also magnificent at the end of the day.

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