top of page



average rating is 4 out of 5


Brian Penn


Posted on:

Jun 19, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Stephen Williams
Written by:
Stefani Robinson
Kelvin Harrison Jr, Lucy Boynton, Samara Weaving

Aside from making the cash registers ring, filmmakers have a responsibility to uncover new or forgotten stories. Great deeds are out there waiting to be discovered and introduced to an appreciative audience. Chevalier is a luxurious period drama that tells the true story of Joseph Bologne, the illegitimate son of an African slave and a plantation owner. He gradually rose through the ranks of French society and became a brilliant violinist, composer and champion fencer. If that wasn’t sufficient to fill a crowded CV Bologne was also dubbed Chevalier de Saint-Georges (the French equivalent to a knighthood) by Marie Antoinette.


This gripping tale begins with an exciting face-off between Bologne and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; two brilliant musicians locked in combat before an enraptured audience. It’s a stunning sequence that’s beautifully crafted with a perfect blend of sound and visuals. Although they were contemporaries, there is no documentary evidence they actually performed together. Nevertheless, it’s a cleverly imagined meeting of the minds and sets the scene for a remarkable life in pre-revolutionary France.


Bologne begins as a child prodigy who rapidly excels in a number of disciplines. By adulthood he is an expert swordsman and clearly has a gift for music. Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr) charms the court of Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton), but catches the eye of aspiring singer Marie-Josephine (Samara Weaving). Bologne has aspirations to lead the Paris Opera House and must produce an opera to secure the position. He wants Marie-Josephine to play a leading role in the opera. However, their ambitions and desire are thwarted by her cold and controlling husband Marquis De Montalembert (Marton Csokas).


The sense of political intrigue on the eve of revolution is depicted with vibrant cinematography. The attention to detail, from the costumes to the fencing sequences are impeccable. The close and clammy atmosphere is almost palpable and indicative of a nation on the cusp of change. Kelvin Harrison Jr is superb in the title role and benefits from a wonderfully spikey turn from Lucy Boynton as Marie Antoinette. Bologne’s achievements as a man of colour in the 18th Century is nothing short of astonishing. It’s shameful that it’s taken this long for his endeavours to be properly recognised. There is even potential for a sequel as Bologne’s exploits after the revolution are just as enthralling. No one could have lived a life less ordinary.

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release
bottom of page