LWLies 102: the Challengers issue – Out now!

Join our fully-illustrated celebration of Luca Guadagnino’s sparkling sports romcom.


Little White Lies

The Italian writer/director Luca Guadagnino caught the eye of the film world with his lavish and luxuriant 2009 film, I Am Love, in which Tilda Swinton plays out a pursed romance set in the world of gourmet food service. Later, in 2017, he had a deserved mega hit with the wistful country romance, Call Me By Your Name, which connected with a young, curious audience on a profound level. His new film, Challengers, cultivates his connection with that influential audience, a spry and sharp romantic dramady set in the high stakes world of professional tennis.

The film stars Zendaya (who also produces) as Tashi, a charismatic tennis star-in-the-making who catches the eye of two fine prospects, Josh O’Connor’s lairy, louche Patrick, and Mike Faist’s more interior and sensitive Art. As both men playfully jostle for Tashi’s affections, she experiences a professional tragedy that frames her boyish sutors in a new light. This tale of romantic back-and-forth is told via flashback from the blue hard court of a low key “Challenger” competition in which our love rivals meet on court. Their fraught match becomes an outlet for their frustrations and joys, while Tashi must look on and attempt to make sense of the loaded body language that’s been sent across the net.

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In this issue, we talk to Guadagnino about making what is his most kinetic and ebullient film, but one that retains his commitment to deep character shades and personal chemistry between actors. We also speak to Zendaya, O’Connor and Faist about how their personal relationships and intricate preparations resulted in one of the year’s hottest and most nail-biting films.

On the cover

We commissioned the Eindhoven-based artist Petra Eriksson for this vibrantly colourful, graphically-inclined cover featuring the film’s three leads. You can read more about Eriksson’s process here. Elsewhere in the issue, we have new artwork by Andrei Nicolescu, Stéphanie Sergeant, Ruby Ash and Polina Jakimova, plus a special illustrated celebration of Luca Guadagnino’s cinema by Elise Hibberd, Eri Aikawa, Stephanie Monohan, Max Erwin, and Laura Hope.

In the issue

Encounters: The Cinema of Luca Guadagnino
Rafa Sales Ross surveys the lush cinematic landscape of this singular director ahead of Challengers’ arrival.

Hawk Eye: A conversation with Luca Guadagnino
The poetic and worldly filmmaker explains how he came to make a hyper-kinetic sports melodrama in Challengers.

Three’s Company
We meet Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist – the stars of Challengers – to divine the formula of their awesome screen chemistry.

Emotion Seller
A conversation with Challengers’ ace screenwriter and erstwhile YouTube sensation, Justin Kuritzkes.

Gentleman’s Agreement
Lillian Crawford looks for bisexual rumblings in cinema’s early days.

Jake Cole lists ten of the most important and epochal electronic soundtracks in the history of cinema.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Movie Stars: A LWLies round-table
Four critics pick and pull at the sinews of the modern movie star over a lavish breakfast at The Wolseley.

Ads Infinitum: A Guadagnino Portfolio
Five Luca Guadagnino bangers reframed as classic magazine ads by a group of industrious illustrators.

In the back section

Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke
Hannah Strong talks dirty with the writer/director partnership whose new film, Drive-Away Dolls, offers a sex positive throwback to sixties B-pictures.

Rose Glass
It’s two times the charm for the director of Love Lies Bleeding, who discussed her visceral bordertown crime caper with Hannah Strong.

Victor Erice
David Jenkins meets the Spanish maestro whose wonderful new film, Close Your Eyes, is his first feature in over 30 years.

Alice Rohrwacher
Hannah Strong interviews this leading light of the new ethereal cinema on her beguiling and emotional new work, La Chimera.

Sean Price Williams
Anna Bogutskaya shoots the breeze with the ace cinematographer-turned-director on the occasion of his down-and-dirty debut, The Sweet East.

Rodrigo Moreno
The Argentinian filmmaker behind the laconic crime comedy, The Delinquents, talks about mining classical genre to find something new and transcendent.

In review

Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke’s Drive-Away Dolls
Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy’s Baltimore
Bobby Moser, Gennady Baranov and Ben Mullinkosson’s The Last Year of Darkness
Rose Glass’s Love Lies Bleeding
Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck’s Fantastic Machine
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Monster
Pablo Berger’s Robot Dreams
Neo Sora’s Opus
Kevin Macdonald’s High and Low: John Galliano
Marco Bellocchio’s Kidnapped
Sacha Polak’s Silver Haze
Anthony Chen’s Drift
Sean Price Williams’ The Sweet East
Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s Banel & Adama
Victor Erice’s Close Your Eyes
Matteo Garrone’s Io Capitano
Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera
Ilker Çatak’s The Teachers’ Lounge
Angela Schanelec’s Music
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist
Elene Naveriani’s Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry
Giacomo Abbruzzese’s Disco Boy
Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy
Paul Duane’s All You Need is Death
Rodrigo Moreno’s The Delinquents

Plus, Matt Turner selects six key home ents releases for your consideration. Also, Hannah Strong sends a postcard from the Berlin Film Festival.

LWLies 101 is available to order now from our online shop. Become a Club LWLies Gold Member or subscribe today to make sure you never miss an issue.

Published 20 Mar 2024

Tags: Challengers Josh O’Connor Luca Guadagnino Mike Faist Zendaya

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About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.