Love means nothing

It’s inevitable that a pair of tennis prodigies (Mike Faist, Josh O’Connor) who meet at a teen training camp would become lifelong rivals, and equally inevitable that the rivalry would soon extend to the fairer sex when this major babe (Zendaya) shows up. 

I had a hard time keeping track of who was with whom at times, but I do remember a distinct “WTF did I just watch?” vibe when leaving the theater. So I checked out some of the buzz surrounding this one. 

The reviews on average were not bad. The director is Luca Guadagnino, who burst on the scene with the excellent Call Me by Your Name but then descended to the overcooked Suspiria and most recently the execrable Bones and All.  I came across such descriptions of this movie as, “gripping,” “deliriously enjoyable,” “bold,” and “psychologically insightful.”

Maybe I saw a different movie. 

The constant, tiresome time-shifting structure fails to hide how thin the story is. Whenever an important emotional moment comes up, Guadagnino throws in a hammering, synth-pop score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that makes it maddeningly hard to even understand the dialog. The three leads are good-looking but not at all likeable, their character motivations are questionable, and they treat one another despicably. And finally the would-be auteur director employs a bunch of film-school editing tricks that add precisely nothing. 

Bottom line, two hours plus of watching Zendaya engage in heavy petting, sometimes with two guys at once.  If this is what you go to the movies for, have fun. But even as a guilty pleasure, this high-end soap opera/Eurosleaze is hard to watch. (131 min)