Watch Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor Spar Over Churros in ‘Challengers’ | Anatomy of a Scene

From The New York Times.

Churros have never tasted more bitter than in this scene from “Challengers.”

In this sequence, which takes place at Stanford, the character Art (Mike Faist), who is attending the university, reconnects with his dear friend Patrick (Josh O’Connor), who has left education to become a tennis pro. Not present in the scene, yet hanging over it, is Tashi (Zendaya), the woman at the center of their complicated triangle.

At this moment, Tashi is dating Patrick, but in this scene, Art is trying to throw a wrench into the relationship. The sequence takes place at the university canteen where the two are chatting over churros. Narrating the sequence, the director Luca Guadagnino said that what is playing out is “a game of rivalry sparkling between these two young boys over Tashi, but at the same time, a jealousy that ignites the relationship also because, probably, these two guys are also jealous of one another.”

That tension is played out in the way that Guadagnino shoots the sequence, holding on a long two-shot as the friends discuss Tashi, then cutting when Patrick realizes the game of manipulation that Art is playing.

“The main guideline in thinking of this movie and the mise en scène was the classic old Hollywood screwball comedy kind of grammar,” Guadagnino said. “Those great movies were all using, in a beautiful way, the stillness of framing to let the performance breathe in all its ambiguities, in all its unspoken conflicts.”

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