The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, Joseph Bologne rises to improbable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, complete with a love affair and falling out with Marie Antoinette.
Set in years before the French revolution, Chevalier is a biographical drama about Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The story highlights the hypocrisy of the monarch in France at the time and the racism that existed in those times, even as Joseph Bologne proved himself a master at his craft. Those around him respected him, to a point, while talking behind his back. Though, he does find friends in fellow students and citizens who believe the current regime, headed by Maris Antoinette must go, and are more open minded and accepting of others, including Joseph.
The music in the film is nothing short of amazing, and the effort that actor Kelvin Harrison Jr put into honing his skills on the Violin, spending 6 hours a day practicing for the role. Other big names in French history and musical history make their appearance in the film as well, during scenes centered around musical arts. The director and writers managed to put together a well grounded and focused take on the previously forgotten virtuoso that was lost during the French Revolution. Some of the music features in the was also some of Bologne’s original work, though a lot was lost as well.
This film is a perfect example of a period piece, and one that explores previously unknown figures, that is able to keep its story grounded and laser focused so that audiences don’t get bored, overwhelmed or blending down the sheer talent of the title character they are trying to portray. Combined with excellent casting in the lead role, Chevalier will continue to be talked about throughout award season.
Chevalier is in wide release 4/21