Luca Guadagnino Explains the Ambiguous Ending of ‘Challengers’

The Director Opens Up About the Final Moments of the Romantic Sports-Drama

Challengers, the recently released romantic sports drama directed by Luca Guadagnino, has been garnering strong reviews and box office success. Starring Zendaya, Mike Faist, and Josh O’Connor, the movie follows a love triangle between three professional tennis players. Two of them get married, igniting personal and professional rivalries. However, the film’s ambiguous ending has sparked discussions and debates among audiences.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Guadagnino shed light on the Challengers ending and provided his explanation for the final moments.

The Significance of the Ambiguous Ending

The movie concludes with an ambiguous ending, choosing not to reveal who won the grudge match between Patrick and Art. Instead, it ends precisely as Art crashes into Patrick on the tennis court, falling into his arms as Tashi cheers on the sidelines. Guadagnino revealed that the important part of the story was not who won, but the trio being back together.

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Here’s what the Call Me by Your Name director had to say:

“They are acting out for 13 years the possibility of going back to that hotel room to find again that beautiful moment of burgeoning desires and innocence. And at the same time, to feel at ease with one another, the way they were there. So, throughout the entire arc, that’s what they’re trying to do. And finally, with the rivalry at that heightened level, the triangle finally found itself sitting in the same place, but now on the court.”

Guadagnino further emphasized the importance of the ambiguous ending:

“I needed to get this very, very visually amped up and really immersed for the audience to understand how much it meant for them not to win over the other, but to be back together, all of them.”

The Strength of the Ambiguous Ending

Part of Challengers’ strength as a movie lies in how the story develops and how the ending fulfills the promise of the premise. As Guadagnino suggests, the ambiguity of the ending feeds into what is truly important in the movie: the relationship between the trio. The winner is almost irrelevant, and audiences don’t get to find out the result because it doesn’t matter. All three characters are back together, and that tension and chemistry are palpable.

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Many movies lose their audience with unsatisfying or contradictory endings that feel unearned. However, Challengers seems to have worked well because Guadagnino and writer Justin Kuritzkes choose to let the audience decide how some elements of the story end, which could lead to more discussion and speculation.

Guadagnino’s Expertise in Exploring Complex Relationships

No stranger to building tension and developing complicated relationship dynamics, most of Guadagnino’s best movies explore these kinds of themes, and Challengers is no exception. Whether the ending of the movie is enough to make Challengers a modern classic remains to be seen, but time will tell how it is viewed retrospectively.

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However, buoyed by strong performances, intimate direction from Guadagnino, and Kuritzkes’s solid script, the movie is faring well with audiences. As it sparks impassioned debate and speculation, Challengers marks a strong entry in the filmography of all those involved.


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