HUNGER’s definitive guide to ‘Challengers’ core

The sexiest film of the year has you leaving the cinema wanting to *be* Tashi Duncan. This is how to do just that.

Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist. When you pop these three in a film together you get Challengers, which follows a messy ménage à trois between three competitive tennis players. Of course there’s a few other elements that have made this film a sure-fire winner: it’s the vision of Luca Guadagnino (the director behind Call Me by Your Name and Bones and All), its costumes are made by none other than Loewe’s JW Anderson, and it’s got a score by legends Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Basically, it’s of no surprise that people online have described feeling a “post-challengers weekend high” after seeing the film. It’s the kind of film that’s so affecting, in fact, that you walk out of Challengers wanting to live in the world that it takes place in. You want to be Tashi Duncan. You want to be Patrick Zweig. It’s a little less likely, but you might even want to be Art Donaldson… And you probably really want a threesome. Some of those things are more feasible than others, but this is how HUNGER reckons you can get that one step closer to living out your Challengers fantasy. 

Wear court-ready clothing

The ultimate answer to embracing 2024’s sultriest film comes in the form of Loewe’s “I TOLD YA” collection, a limited edition drop of sweatshirts and t-shirts emblazoned with that slogan, as worn by the characters in Challengers. Unfortunately, we don’t all have £225 knocking about. Yep, that’s the price of a white tee with those mysterious words on it — the price even skyrockets to £475 if you want them on a sweatshirt. To be honest, it’s a small price to pay when it comes to emulating Tashi Duncan or Patrick Zweig, but it’s handy to have a few (slightly cheaper) alternatives. Other pieces that will have you ready for centre court can be found with a focused trawl through “cool” clothes retailers like SSENSE, Mr Porter and END. Pop on a classic tee and cap from cult brand Aries, or slip into a polo shirt by Baracuta. There’s also something decidedly Challengers about this oversized polo and this cable cardigan from Open YY. 

Really, you can go even more abstract with what makes a piece of clothing Challengers-esque. Essentially, what you’re looking for is anything an American yuppie – one you’d likely hate if they weren’t played by Josh O’Connor – would have worn back in ‘08. Think first album Vampire Weekend, t-shirts emblazoned with collegiate logos, and, believe it or not, rugby tops. With the t-shirts specifically, you get extra points if it’s a perfectly worn in single stitch number you found on eBay. After you’ve thrown one of them over a pair of short shorts, all that’s left to do is head to centre court and dominate your opponent… and two hapless men. 

Get into a sweaty (and groany) sport 

Why aren’t we just instructing you to play tennis? Wouldn’t that be the easiest way of emulating Challengers in the real world? Well, real ones will know that director Luca Guadagnino doesn’t actually like tennis. “I don’t watch tennis matches. It’s quite boring to me,” he said in an interview with Little White Lies. What we’re getting at is though Challengers did succeed in making tennis the most erotic thing in the universe, it’s not just this particular sport that will get you closer to harnessing the spirit of the film. We reckon the answer to sport-based eroticism lies in the sweat, and the potential of you letting out some guttural, decidedly sexual groans. While table tennis, snooker and darts aren’t going to be the way forward for this one, anyone with their finger on the pulse would be looking to sports like wrestling, boxing, and… dodgeball maybe? You want to be sweating so much that if Guadagnino shoved a camera in your face you’d quite literally drip onto it (if you know, you know), and you want the kind of sporting aggression that will, by and by, lead to sexual intercourse. 

Challengers / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Embrace phallic food 

If you haven’t yet seen Challengers, it might come as a surprise that one of the most pivotal scenes in the film revolves around a churro. There’s a similar moment involving a banana, and Guadagnino even manages to make sucking from one of those sports sachets quite horny. What does this tell us? That phallic food is about to become en-vogue. Think not just bananas and churros, but burritos, hot dogs, and ice lollies. Use your imagination, and it’s going to be better if you’re chowing down in close proximity to that mate you’ve always had a lot of homoerotic tension with. 

Exclusively listen to club-ready, slightly anxiety-inducing music 

As someone on X pointed out, the thumping score that accompanies Challengers should be played at the club. We, however, would go one step further, and are making a solid case for having Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ nauseating melodies soundtrack the entirety of your existence. While a track like “The Signal” is the perfect thing to get you through a hefty work session, it’s also the ideal tune to jolt awake to. If you’re particularly dedicated to living out Challengers IRL, you’ll even delve into the other electronic music that’s ready and waiting to give you an anxiety (or heart) attack. Think Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ scores for The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl, select tracks by Charli XCX, and “Neverender”, a song which Justice and Tame Impala collaborated on. Make it your favourite genre. Make it the only genre you listen to, in fact. 

Live the kind of life that could be turned into a viral fancam 

What is it about Guadagnino’s films that makes them catnip to fancam creators? We’re not entirely sure, but it feels like it was only hours after the release of Challengers that someone had created a catchy little edit of all the film’s best moments. Following suit of the iconic TikTok born out of Call Me by Your Name, the one making the rounds from Challengers features tennis balls being thwacked in time to Artemas’ “i like the way you kiss me”. Where we’re going with this is it might be beneficial to imagine your own life will eventually be made into a fancam. Embrace OTT interactions, dramatic entrances and the kind of movements which could be cut in time to whatever song is most popular on TikTok at that given moment. Sure, this one’s abstract, but if you’ve experienced just how spellbinding a fancam can be, you’ll get it. 

Seek out situations with high potential for a ménage à trois

A ménage à trois is defined as “an arrangement in which three people share a sexual relationship”. Simple, right? The challenge comes with putting yourself in the right situation to start one up. While Challengers makes a very convincing argument for taking up a competitive sport in order to get yourself into a throuple, there’s a few other environments we reckon will be fruitful. You certainly get a whiff of throuple potential from London’s many warehouse flatshares. With thirteen people (some of whom will most certainly have a penchant for polyamory) sharing a barren wasteland of a home in say, Manor House, the odds of getting into a ménage à trois are in your favour. You can also look at cinema’s other great throuples for inspo. In Celine Song’s Past Lives, it’s getting your childhood sweetheart involved when you’re happily married that leads to a ménage à trois of sorts. If Ira Sachs’ Passages is anything to go by, you need to attend a party, get turned down for a dance by your own partner, then get your groove on with someone else. Niche? Perhaps. But you could argue that the ménage à trois in Challengers is pretty specialist itself. That hasn’t stopped everyone who went to see the film over the weekend downloading the Feeld app immediately afterwards… Look it up. 

Past Lives / CJ ENM

Be a bit… horrible?

It’s arguable that one of the core tenets of Challengers is that all the central characters are dubious in their motivations. And though contemporary society’s emphasis on therapy and “being nice” makes you think you should try and hide your worst qualities, Guadagnino’s film is a testament to the fact that you should bring them to the forefront. Be toxic, and be manipulative. Take a leaf out of Tashi Duncan’s book and treat men with such a level of insidious disrespect that they feel compelled to eat out of the palm of your hand.

WriterAmber Rawlings
Banner Image CreditChallengers / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer