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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Well-acted period biopic about pioneering Black virtuoso.

Movie PG-13 2023 107 minutes
Chevalier Movie Poster: Kelvin Harrison Jr. as 18th century composer and violinist Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, holding his violin

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 12+

Great biopic about an unrecognized genius

President John Adams once said that Joseph Bologne, also known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was “the most accomplished man in Europe in riding, shooting, fencing, dancing and music.” But, as the movie portrays racism was alive and well in 18th century France prior to the revolution. This movie tells the fascinating story of a classical musician whose talents rivaled Mozart’s and dramatizes his rise in the court of Marie Antoinette. Chevalier was born in 1745 in the French Caribbean colony of Guadeloupe. He was the son of a wealthy plantation owner and an enslaved 16-year-old girl from Senegal. After moving to Paris, where his mother became a free woman, he studied music, mathematics, literature and fencing at La Boëssière Academy. This movie is a worthy biopic, inspired by an incredible true story, but it has lots of weaknesses. Too much of the plots is devoted to an fictitious love affair, and the there are part of the story that are cliche and clumsy. I found myself yawning, and wishing it had less of a soap opera feel. But overall the movie is worthwhile since it tells the story of a remarkable “ renaissance man” whose music has only recently been recognized for it’s beauty.

This title has:

Educational value
1 person found this helpful.
age 15+

Not suitable for children deapite PG rating.

Please note while this is rated PG it is not for children, the opening scene includes a famous composer questioning, "Who the f*** is that?". Unfortunately, as it was rated PG, I started watching it with my 12 year old, quickly finding it to not be suitable.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Harrison gives an outstanding performance in this tribute to the first major Black composer in classical music history. In Chevalier, director Stephen Williams, working from a script by writer and producer Stefani Robinson, has made a movie that is at once historical and incredibly current, exploring themes of imperialism, paternalism, racism, and Black excellence. Harrison, who's been remarkable in other dramas such as Cyrano, Luce, Waves, and Monster, continues to impress in a role that was seemingly tailor-made for him. He infuses the attractive, arrogant Chevalier with swagger that simmers with intensity. Joseph can't handle being anything but the best, because it's what he believes he must be -- even as his freed mother, Nanon (Ronke Adekoluejo), tries to explain that no matter how much he cozies up to the French elite (even the queen herself), he will still be Black first.

The story's adulterous romance is excused by Marie-Josephine's lack of agency in her marriage to a stern, bloodthirsty marquis. She's smart, beautiful, and kind, and she quickly becomes the Chevalier's muse. But the most interesting part of the story is its somewhat rushed third act, when, after a dramatic setback, Joseph starts to listen to his mother, explore the small Black community of Paris, and get in touch with his true self, not just his performative self. There are a few missteps in the movie -- a particularly preachy monologue by Marie-Josephine seems out of character and place -- but Harrison is such an electrifying actor that audiences will undoubtedly want to know more about the real Chevalier. The mostly Black principal crew, it should be noted, includes Juilliard-trained Black violinist Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, who performs the solo in the final big music scene. That commitment to authenticity deserves applause. The drama, and the composer's music on the score, will hopefully raise awareness about an artist and man whose name should be much more than a footnote in music history.

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