By Mark Fields

If Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges hadn’t actually existed, Hollywood would have had to invent him. But improbably, he did exist, and Chevalier is the movie about his life. The illegitimate son of a French-Caribbean plantation owner and an enslaved African woman, Joseph rose to the heights of Paris society and the court of Marie Antoinette as an accomplished swordsman, classical composer, and man of acclaim. Blessed with incredible skills as well as a charming demeanor, Joseph seems to overcome the racism and classism of the society around him…until they predictably rise up to bring him down. (His music, forgotten until recently thanks to the same racism, is truly lovely and worth a listen.) Kelvin Harrison Jr. portrays the Chevalier with confidence and charisma. Samara Weaving is appealing as his paramour and musical protégé, Marie Josephine. Stephen Williams, an Emmy-winning TV director making his feature debut, keeps the movie well-paced amid its gorgeous costumes and scenery. Devotees of period dramas will find familiar rhythms to the story, but the unusual protagonist at its center makes for a fresh perspective.

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed movies for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Over the years, Mark also has written on film for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark was an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University from 1998 to 2018. A career arts administrator, he retired in fall 2021 after 16 years as an executive at Wilmington’s Grand Opera House. Mark now leads bike tours part-time and is working on a screenplay. He lives in Trolley Square with his partner Wendy. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.