Now on Bluray, Digital and available to stream from director Stephen Williams, writer Stefani Robinson and Searchlight Pictures is the story of CHEVALIER.
Joseph Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) arrives at a Mozart concert to show his talent playing the violin. Born to plantation owner George de Bologne and his African mother Nanon (Ronke Adekoluejo), he is taken away from his mother to France and a Paris boarding school. When it seems as if the school will not accept him, the young man stands with a violin and shows his remarkable skill.
Dealing with harassment, Joseph not only excels in music but in fencing and when Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton) arrives to see a fencing match, she is impressed and immediately knights him as his name changes to Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The two become close friends and are seen about Paris at social events.
That is where he meets the Marie-Madeleine Gruimard (Minnie Driver) as she tries to make it clear she is very interested in him and always gets her way – or else. The Chevalier is drawn to the singing of Marie-Josephine de Montalembert (Samara Weaving) and is also introduced to her very stern husband Marc Rene (Marton Csokas).
Also, he learns the fate of his father and reunited with mother Nanon. Stiff towards her presence, he goes about his plan to becoming the director of the Paris Opera with his only competition being Christoph Gluck. Convincing the Queen to have both men present their ideas to the committee, the Chevalier enlists the help of Stephanie Felicite (Sian Clifford) to produce the opera with his music.
Knowing he wants Marie-Josephine to be the lead singer, husband Marc-Rene refuses the offer but his wife has other plans. As the opera begins rehearsals, it becomes clear that there are other forces against the Chevalier and one of the is Marc-Rene who makes a deal that wife and the musician stay away from each other, again, or else.
All around him Chevalier is seeing the French Revolution begin as the people rise up, he begins to experience life through Nano’s eyes and the heinous act of a love lost. Through it all, Chevalier puts his world to music on the forbidden stage turning his back on a Queen’s fickle friendship and a man who has committed the unthinkable.
Harrison Jr. as Chevalier is a young man placed in a difficult situation in life. His music is the one thing he can call his very own. Making his way in society by having the Queen as a friend, there are those that believe their power can either make or break his success. Harrison Jr. portrays a man who seems to have it all together, until it isn’t and his eyes are opened up to what is actually happening around him.
Weaving as Marie-Josephine is a young woman married to an older man and all the problems that come along with that. Wanting to do what she is capable of musically also leads to a relationship that under any circumstances would have caused problems. Trying to keep Chevalier away became the problem for Weaving’s character. Csokas as the hostile husband Marc Rene controls his wife with a glare that would stop anyone in their tracks then again, that is not surprising. Csokas plays the bad guy like no one else.
Boynton as Marie Antoinette is a woman who clearly is living her best life. The problem is that the people of France are not happy with that life as they are all suffering. Boynton shows her character as a very insecure young woman and friendship with Chevalier has uncovered conditions. Clifford as Felicite wants to help Chevalier and sees what he goes through until the end.
Adekoluejo as Nanon is a mother who is finally reunited with her son. Seeing how he lives and the way he goes through life, Adekoluejo gives her character grace and elegance in trying to explain what he is missing. Driver as Marie-Madeleine is a woman bent on using her status and power to control people, including Chevalier. When that doesn’t work, she resorts to social destruction and Driver makes it harsh without batting an eye.
Other cast includes Alex Fitzalan as Louis Philippe II, Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Christoph Gluck, Sam Barlien as Louis XVI and Joseph Prowen as Wolfgang Mozart.
Searchlight Pictures is responsible for such films as SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI. They have an extensive film library as well as documentaries, scripted series, and limited series. For more information, please visit www.searchlightpictures.com.
Bonus Featurette CHEVALIER: Note By Note – Discover the untold story of Joseph Bologne, an incredibly talented violinist and composer. In this piece we hear from filmmakers, cast and crew on their journey from discovering this hidden historical figure to bringing his story to life.
CHEVALIER is a film about the life of the young black musical artist of his time. Harrison Jr. does a good job of portraying the struggles of the character from birth, to school, to society, music and where he begins to see life differently.
The costuming of the time is gorgeous and the music is soothing to the ear which adds another layer of richness and depth to the story. The film will be available from all major digital retailers including Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu and Movies Anywhere and includes a 15-minute behind the scenes featurette called “Chevalier: Note By Note.”
In the end – his music is once again alive!