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How To Watch ‘Challengers’ From Home As Zendaya’s Movie Is Now Available To Rent

Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” starring Zendaya, is now available for streaming.

Challengers 2024. Image Credits IMDb How To Watch ‘Challengers’ From Home As Zendaya's Movie Is Now Available To Rent
Challengers (2024). Image Credits – IMDb

You can rent or purchase the drama on Prime Video and Apple TV+.

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Tennis and Tension: A Tale of Rivalry and Romance

“Challengers” follows the fierce rivalry between tennis pros Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) and Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor), both on and off the court, as they vie for the affection of tennis prodigy-turned-coach Tashi (Zendaya).

Luca Guadagnino’s steamy sports drama has been met with much praise from critics and fans alike, making it a likely contender come awards season. Variety’s Peter Debruge deemed “Challengers” a “critic’s pick,” calling the film “the steamiest (and funniest) sports-centric love triangle since ‘Bull Durham.’” The film currently sits at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes with a B+ CinemaScore

Box Office Journey and Zendaya’s Stellar Year

“Challengers” opened strong with a $15 million debut at the domestic box office and has since climbed to over $40 million. However, with a production budget of $55 million, it still has some ground to cover to break even.

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  1. Is Challenger based on a true story?

    Although ‘Challengers’ is not a true story, writer Justin Kuritzkes found real-life inspiration for the character of Tashi, portrayed by Zendaya. Tashi’s character drew inspiration from Mirka, the wife of tennis legend Roger Federer.

Zendaya, who recently graced the cover of Variety with her “Challengers” co-stars, has had a remarkable 2024, solidifying her status as one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars. In March, she starred as Chani in “Dune: Part 2,” which has grossed over $700 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2024. Additionally, her performance as MJ in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” released in 2021, contributed to its success as the seventh highest-grossing movie of all time.

A Love Triangle on the Court: ‘Challengers’ Review

Luca Guadagnino’s latest film, “Challengers,” explores a shifting love triangle between two infatuated men and a sharp, beautiful woman with killer instincts and personal style. Set primarily in the world of professional tennis, this lightly sexy and entertaining film features broken hearts and injuries but remains emotionally restrained. This film is a refreshing departure from Guadagnino’s more intense works like “Suspiria” and “Bones and All.”

Sceen from Luca Guadagninos ‘Challengers Image Credits Twitter How To Watch ‘Challengers’ From Home As Zendaya's Movie Is Now Available To Rent
Sceen from Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Challengers’, Image Credits – Twitter

Written by novelist and playwright Justin Kuritzkes, “Challengers” offers a fairly straightforward narrative despite its complex timeline. It follows three tennis prodigies—friends, lovers, and rivals—through their victories and defeats. The story begins with Tashi (Zendaya), once the brightest star, now retired and coaching her husband, Art (Mike Faist), a Grand Slam champion on a downward spiral. To revive his career, Art enters a challenger tournament, a minor-league event for lower-ranking professionals and injured higher-ranking players.

The tournament takes place in New Rochelle, N.Y., near the U.S. Open venue in Flushing, Queens, which Art has yet to win. During this tournament, Art and Tashi reconnect with Patrick (Josh O’Connor), the third member of their complicated triangle. Patrick, a wealthy man who affects a struggling persona, met Art at a tennis academy during their childhood. By age 18, they were close friends, and possibly more, although the film leaves their exact relationship ambiguous, sparking the audience’s imagination. It was at this point that they both met Tashi, who was then a rising star.

Time Twists and Tennis: ‘Challengers’ Review

Soon after the movie opens in 2019, it jumps to the recent past (“two weeks earlier”) and then starts bouncing back and forth in time like a ball flying over the net, with the New Rochelle match serving as the story’s frame. (The 2019 date may be a nod to the epic men’s final at Wimbledon that year, where Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer after nearly five hours.) Turning back the clock can sometimes be a cheap way to make movies seem more complex than they are.

Mike Faist in Luca Guadagninos ‘Challengers Image Credits Twitter jpg How To Watch ‘Challengers’ From Home As Zendaya's Movie Is Now Available To Rent
Mike Faist in Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Challengers’, Image Credits – Twitter

However, as the story leaps from past to present—from when Tashi, Art, and Patrick were feverishly young to when they were somewhat less young—time begins to blur, highlighting that the passing years haven’t changed much.

All three leads in “Challengers” are very appealing, each bringing emotional and psychological nuance to the story, regardless of the characters’ current configuration. They’re also just fun to watch, and part of the movie’s pleasure is seeing attractive people in states of undress, restlessly circling one another, muscles tensed, and desiring gazes ricocheting. Guadagnino is in his element here, and you can sense his delight in his actors. With cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, he showcases them beautifully, lighting them so they appear to glow from within. Even during the fantastically staged and very sweaty New Rochelle match, they radiate.

Character Dynamics and Lighthearted Drama: ‘Challengers’ Review

For his part, Faist opens up the puppyish Art, allowing you to see the character’s vulnerability, which makes him sympathetic until it just makes him sad. But it’s O’Connor who pushes the material toward something like depth. O’Connor played such an insufferable version of the young Prince Charles in the series “The Crown” that I had difficulty separating the actor from his character.

Zendaya and Josh OConnor in Challengers That Are Two sides of a love triangle. Image Credits Niko TaverniseMetro Goldwyn MayerAmazon How To Watch ‘Challengers’ From Home As Zendaya's Movie Is Now Available To Rent
Zendaya and Josh O’Connor in ‘Challengers’ That Are Two sides of a love triangle. Image Credits – Niko TaverniseMetro-Goldwyn-MayerAmazon

Patrick is an entirely different kind of off-putting; he swaggers and smirks and, in one scene, drops his towel in the sauna. It’s a bit of sly gamesmanship; it’s also flirting. His confidence gives him an erotic charge that energizes Art and Tashi, and neither seems able to quit him even after drama and disaster disrupt the trio.

That disaster is significant, or at least it’s meant to be, but Guadagnino excels more at blissfully gliding along the surfaces of life than at delving too deeply beneath them. And that’s perfectly fine! One of the pleasures of “Challengers” is that despite some tears, tightened jaws, and its intricate chronology, the movie isn’t trying to convey anything profound, which is a relief. It aims to engage and entertain, and it does so very effectively. Sometimes, a dreamy movie is all you need, and if it inspires you to pick up a racket, a date, or even just rewatch a classic like Ernst Lubitsch’s 1933 “Design for Living,” about a different sexy trio, so much the better.

You can rent or purchase “Challengers” on Prime Video and Apple TV+ starting May 17.

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