Sandrine Bonnaire Makes Her Next Move in Queen to Play
After chambermaid Hélène (Sandrine Bonnaire) glimpses an American couple (Jennifer Beals and Dominic Gould) playing chess in the upscale Corsican resort where she works, she becomes obsessed with the game and what it represents to her. The couples casually sexy interplay and wealth are in stark contrast to the hand-to-mouth existence of Hélène and her family (a construction-worker husband and surly teenage daughter). Writer-director Caroline Bottaro, who adapted the screenplay from the novel The Chess Player, has crafted a feminist tale thats part Pygmalion and part 70s womens film, with chess being both a tool for self-growth and a spark for Hélènes previously untapped intellectual prowess. She is helped on her path to self-fulfillment by the curmudgeonly Dr. Kröger (Kevin Kline), whose house she cleans for extra cash and who tutors her on the finer points of the gameand life. The plot sounds more programmatic than it actually plays out on-screen: Hélènes evolution is gingerly balanced by a class critique thats sympathetic to both prole women and men. The supporting cast is uniformly fine, but the film rests on the delicate shoulders of Bonnaire, who carries it with a soulful, magnetic presence.
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