By Sarah Bates
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2802

Chivalry —a ‘MeToo comedy’ that’s full of genuine laughs

A satire that takes on the film industry after Me Too risks being either dry or offensive. But Chivalry finds humour in the right places
Issue 2802
Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani as Cameron and Bobby in Channel 4 comedy Chivalry

Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani manage the chemistry and tension to pull jokes out of tricky ground in Chivalry

“So, who do you want to fuck, me or him?” Pierre’s question to Bobby doesn’t appear to be sincere, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s done its job, and Bobby, (Sarah Solemani) is put firmly in her place.

Pierre’s been hauled in front of Bobby and Cameron O’Neil, (Steve Coogan) to defend the cut of his latest film, which the studio says is offensive to women. So Bobby gets her big break and takes over the project.

Chivalry is billed as a “#MeToo comedy” and the funniest bits come from exploring that. But it is more than that—Solemani and Coogan are a great double act. There’s enough tension in their relationship for their sniping to be genuinely entertaining.

Chivalry deals with some weighty topics. Take the shifting of power in between characters. Initially, it seems quite clear cut that Cameron is top dog. It’s more complicated though, because Cameron seems genuinely confused with his industry post-MeToo.

Bobby knows the new world—how you should act, what you’re allowed to say and the correct procedures on movie sets. “I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” she says at one point, after being told Cameron hadn’t acted on complaints against men on sets. “Neither do I, your film’s ­overrated,” replies Cameron. It’s a great shot, after he’s spent the best part of several days trying to butter her up.

Bobby is pitched as the outsider—a great feminist hope who can approach the subject matter with sensitivity and still deliver the goods for the studio. For anyone, it’s a tightrope. But with an unsure actor, an inexperienced intimacy coach and Cameron hovering around, Bobby becomes nothing short of a bully.

Watching the scene in private where she snarls her teeth at a bit part actor is great. And she comes alive when she senses she’s got Cameron on the run. Cameron is the butt of the joke just enough so that you know where the satire is aimed at. And there are some comments from actor Lark, (Sienna Miller) to hint that he could be ­shadier than he appears. 

Chivalry could play it safe and be extremely dry. Thankfully, there’s enough ­chemistry between Solemani and Coogan—and enough cracking jokes—to make it work. Not all of it comes off. The Paul Rudd cameo doesn’t really seem to make any sense, and Aisling Bea just feels too recognisable for quite a small part.

As far as comedies go, there are few harder subject matters. So it’s extra impressive that Chivalry is actually really funny. If the first two episodes are anything to go by Chivalry could be one of the sharpest comedies of the year.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance