Chevalier at the Harbour Lights Cinema

PUBLISHED : June 13, 2023

WORDS : Archive Team

Based on the true story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Kelvin Harrison Jr., Waves), 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. As a testament to the power of resilience and artistic genius, ‘Chevalier’ delivers a captivating exploration of a figure often overlooked in the annals of history. This film is a must-see for anyone interested in the intricate tapestry of Black history and the undying spirit of creativity.

Director Stephen Williams and writer Stefani Robinson skilfully weave a narrative that is as compelling as it is poignant. The film spotlights the remarkable life of the titular French-Caribbean musician, played to perfection by Kelvin Harrison Jr., whose portrayal of Bologne is layered with grace, complexity, and irresistible charisma.

‘Chevalier’ shines in its unabashedly brash and anachronistic approach to its 18th-century tale. It invites viewers into the world of 18th-century France, capturing the lavish court life and the turbulent political climate with detailed accuracy and striking visual appeal.

Samara Weaving, Lucy Boynton, and Minnie Driver deliver compelling performances, each adding depth to the narrative with their unique interpretations of their characters.

One of the film’s greatest strengths is its critique of white institutions, woven subtly throughout the narrative. Through Bologne’s eyes, we witness the complexities and contradictions of a society where talent can be both celebrated and undermined by prejudice. The film also offers a mesmerising exploration of music as an act of defiance and a beacon of hope. It reminds us of the transformative power of art, and how it can challenge and transcend social barriers.

In ‘Chevalier’, we are privy to a story of resistance and passion that resonates deeply in today’s world. While the film captures the extraordinary details of Bologne’s life, it also portrays the universal human struggle for acceptance and recognition. Its story is a testament to Bologne’s enduring spirit, which continues to inspire us to this day.

‘Chevalier’ is a thrilling watch, a feast for the senses and the soul, and a fitting tribute to a man whose legacy continues to echo through the corridors of history. It serves as a powerful reminder of the incredible contributions of Black artists in shaping our cultural landscape.

Multiple showings between the 13th and 22nd of June

Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton, Ocean Village, Southampton, SO14 3TL