Toronto Review: ‘Chevalier’ Written By Stefani Robinson And Directed By Stephen Williams

This is going to be fantastic and I can’t to see this story told. And, before anyone asks, it is NOT reimagined! ~ V

Chevalier is a biopic about violin virtuoso Joseph Bolonge Chevalier de Saint George directed by Stephen Williams and written by Stefani Robinson.

“Play violin concerto #5!” Joseph Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) shouts as he steps on stage, confident in his abilities, ready to compete against the revered Mozart. Bologne shreds that violin to a standing ovation from the French elite.

His origin begins when he is bought from the French colony of Guadeloupe and dumped at a high-class boarding school for boys by his White, slave-owning father. The school is supposed to nurture his talent as a violinist and sword fighter. He’s treated like crap during his time at the school but given a chance to prove himself in front of King Louis and Marie Antionette (Lucy Boynton), who bestows him the title of Chevalier de Saint George, which thrust him to the height of high society.

Bologne’s music is the talk of the town, but he isn’t allowed to perform in Paris’ most prestigious venues because the color of his skin is a barrier to access.

At a party hosted by the Queen, she issues a challenge between him and another composer to write an opera. The winner will perform at the Paris opera and be crowned the company’s director. He needs sponsors and a singer.

After some smooth talking, the musician gets what he needs to win the top spot. But a chance love affair with the star of his Opera, Marie Josephine (Samara Weaving), may destroy everything he’s built.  Also, starring Minnie Driver (La Guimard) and Alex Fitzalan (Philippe).

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Director Stephen Williams and stars Kelvin Harris Jr., Lucy Boynton, Minnie Driver and writer/producer Stefani Robinson discuss their film ‘Chevalier’ at TIFF 2022.

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), was born on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the son of an enslaved woman of Senegalese origin and a French plantation owner.

From the age of eight, he was educated in France. In 1757, his father was named Gentleman of the King’s Chamber, serving as a personal assistant to King Louis XV.

At the age of 17, Joseph was made an officer of the king’s guard and given the title “Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges.”

He first came to fame as the best fencer in France. He is only known to have lost one match.

Little is known of his training as a violinist or as a composer. He began his professional career as a musician with Les Concerts des Amateurs. He made a sensational debut as a soloist with that orchestra in 1772, playing two violin concerti of his own composition.

In 1773, he was named the conductor of the orchestra. Under his leadership, it became regarded as the finest orchestra in Paris and one of the finest in all Europe. In 1781, finances forced the orchestra to disband, and Bologne became director of the newly formed orchestra Le Concert Olympique.

Queen Marie Antoinette, an accomplished musician herself, frequently attended its concerts. Under Bologne’s baton, the orchestra notably premiered Haydn’s six “Paris Symphonies” in 1786 with the queen in attendance. Throughout this decade, he composed string quartets, violin concertos, symphonies concertantes, and other works.

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Disclaimer: We hold no rights to any of the pictures. No copyright infringement intended. Photo credit: Searchlight Pictures/Larry D. Horricks.


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