REVIEW BREW: CHEVALIER
Dear Hollywood, more of this please.
Sometime in January, I was scrolling my YouTube recommendations and stumbled across this video from Royalty Now Studios about Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
I had never heard of him and became fascinated by his story. So in February when I saw the poster for the movie Chevalier, I knew I wanted to see it and I’m so happy I did.
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.
Joseph Bologne’s life was almost lost to history and this film breathes life into his story. The film was directed by Stephen Williams with screenplay by Stefani Robinson. The film is beautiful and lush. The production, sound, costumes, makeup all work together to drop you right into Marie Antoinette’s court.
What I love most about this film is that it tells the story of a black person in the 1700s that is not a fantasy and is not about slavery. Slavery is discussed but it’s not the central focus on of the film. Racism and how does a talented outsider fit into this society are the themes of the movie. Obviously, there is some creative license and some changing in the order of events; however, from what I have learned of Chevalier’s life the story is fleshed out correctly.
I love that this film was not cluttered with actors and actresses I knew, so I could concentrate on the story itself. Kelvin Harrison Jr., a singer and piano player fully embodies Chevalier. After watching him in this film I just knew he played the violin, clearly immersing himself in this person. Harrison hit all the right beats throughout this complicated story. I also really liked Lucy Boynton as Marie Antoinette. Minnie Driver makes an appearance as La Guimard and does a beautiful job as a jilted opera star.
If I had one complaint about this film is that it leaves out that Chevalier was actually good friends with Mozart. In fact, Mozart wrote some orchestras for him. The film threw that friendship away and it shouldn’t have. I rarely say movies need to be longer, but I needed more especially as the film stays concentrated on the period before the French Revolution. The movie could have been at least another hour trying to encompass all of Chevalier’s life.
With its lack of widespread promotion, the box office for the first weekend is understandable. This movie will not be discovered and appreciated until it’s streaming.
However, if you:
- Like historical period dramas
- Have an interest in the French Revolution
- You like orchestral music and opera
- You liked Bridgerton
You should see this movie and I’m sure you will enjoy it.
4.5 Violin Strings out of 5
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