Six men on a yacht in the middle of the Aegean Sea start to play a game in order to kill time. The rules say that they will measure one another not only in challenges invented by each of them in turn, but in anything they will do and say while on the boat. The aim of the game is to find out who is “the best in everything” and the winner will be awarded with a chevalier, a ring usually handed down from father to son to designate noble origins and thus a symbol of (past) power.
We are invited to observe this group of people, confined on the small space the boat offers them (the movie is almost exclusively shot on the yacht) just like an anthropologist would, as they interact and persist in judging each other according with the most meaningless parameters one could think of. The challenges and criteria these men choose in order to find out the best amongst them are in fact simply ridiculous, serving the public with a good amount of laugh: Who is the fastest at building IKEA furniture? Who has the lowest cholesterol values? Who sleeps in the best position?
While the judging game becomes more and more comical and nonsensical, the question this movie deals with takes shape: how do we measure someone’s value and consequently, why do we give power to a person rather than to another one? Does this happen on the basis of thoroughly arbitrary criteria, as the ones these characters choose?
The fact of having only male characters allows Greek director Athina Tsangari (director of 2010 Attenberg, producer of Dogtooth) to talk about the dynamics of power and status without having to deal with the question of interaction between genders, in addition to let her cast a comical look at these men’s strive to prove their virility. Having them grouped in a small space, isolated from the rest of the world, is moreover a very good premise for a behavioral observation.
Subtly fun, this movie about competing in challenges and the distribution of power couldn’t have been produced in another country than the one that originated the Olympic games and democracy. It is an interesting study of human relations with the only flaw of being sometimes as flat as the sea the yacht floats in.