Chivalry review: Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani’s #MeToo comedy is smart and witty

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Sarah Solemani and Steve Coogan in Chivalry (PA)
Sarah Solemani and Steve Coogan in Chivalry (PA)

Not many people would have the courage to make a comedy right now about the new ‘woke’ post-#MeToo Hollywood. Step forward Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani. Their ironically titled Chivalry, which they co-wrote and in which they co-star, is part critique of the systemic sexism in the film industry, part Hollywood satire. They came up with the conceit after meeting on the set of 2019 film Greed, as the #MeToo movement began to decimate Hollywood and after the discussions they had about feminism and the need for change in the industry.

Is it funny? Quite. You get the sense it could be a lot funnier, but Coogan and Solemani probably don’t want to be cancelled. It’s hugely entertaining though and thought-provoking, and there are definitely highly amusing moments.

Cameron O’Neill (played by Coogan) is an old school Hollywood film producer desperately trying to navigate the new ‘woke’ post #MeToo Hollywood landscape. Indie darling Bobby, played with great elan by Sarah Solemani, has been brought in to make the sex scene in his struggling and problematic film palatable to women – or in the words of the brilliantly deranged Lark, played excellently by Sienna Miller, “She’s the feminist the studio have brought in to put the dinosaur’s dick in the mangle.” Bobby can’t stand Cameron, but if she pulls off rescuing his film she’ll get the money to make her beloved Iranian feminist biblical biopic.

Cameron, who has, inevitably, slept with Lark (who now loathes him) has just been dumped by his ‘life-partner’ - his 24 year old year old assistant. He’s flailing horribly in this brave new world where women are treated with respect as equals – sexual and otherwise - and kept safe from predatory behaviour. His main objective in life is now to “avoid getting my bottom spanked by a bunch of angry feminists”.

“You can’t even describe people with adjectives anymore,” he wails. “These people are like the East German Stasi.”

Bobby brings Tatiana (Aisling Bea), an intimacy supervisor, on to the set and there’s much fun had over the fact it isn’t Miller’s character who struggles, but the handsome beefcake brought on to have sex with her who doesn’t feel ‘safe’ or ‘held’ in the scene.

Sienna Miller in Chivalry (PA)
Sienna Miller in Chivalry (PA)

Cameron wants to sack the “sex doctor, sorry sex officer” as the scene is stalling. Bobby explains to him that intimacy supervisors are now compulsory on all sets. “Do you know why?” she asks. “Because the men who had the power to stop women being abused chose not to and the environment that was created was just so hostile and toxic and predatory and disgusting that intimacy supervisors were created to spell out what should be obvious…” And do you see what just happened there? That kind of serious lecture isn’t funny, and sometimes the subject matter doesn’t really work in a comedy format, because women being abused in Hollywood just isn’t very funny. (Although it is funny that the intimacy supervisor is a complete moron who fancies Cameron and says things on the sex scene like “Would it help if you thought of your characters as animals?”)

The programme is too clever to be clichéd and in the end, it’s Bobby who sidelines the intimacy supervisor, telling Cameron to distract her so that she can get the actor to undress - “I don’t care how that sounds,” she snaps.

And it’s Bobby, not Cameron, who abuses her power by humiliating a young male actor trying to get her to help his career.

It’s all pleasantly nuanced and unexpected, but it isn’t really laugh-out-loud funny. The pace is gentle, a bit like Ricky Gervais’ Extras, which feels, with the various celebrity cameos, like a strong influence. (One of the most amusing lines is when after having sucked up to Paul Rudd as soon as he is out of earshot Cameron says “he is one of the most unpleasant characters I’ve ever met.”).

But it’s an intelligent witty take on a tricky subject, with brilliant performances from a great mix of actors. And most importantly, a really enjoyable watch.

All episodes of Chivalry are on 4OD

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting