Follows the journey of a gifted young chess player. The score is a bit sentimental and a slight misstep having his final opponent played like a villain. Overall a good film with a quality cast though. I would love to know what they gained by changing the films title for UK release (original title being, Searching for Bobby fischer).
This movie tells the story of Josh Waitzkin and it is based on the book with the same title written by his father. If you have read the book, you will certainly notice that the adaptation for the movie was flexible and does not really follow he facts, but it sure does make the story more exciting.
The film starts at the time after Bobby Fischer withdrew from the international chess scene and went into seclusion. After winning his title, Fischer had many disagreements with FIDE (International Chess Federation) and did not show up to defend his title against Karpov. As a result, he lost the title and left a huge crowd of fans, that had taken up chess after and American defeated the seemingly invincible Soviets, without a hero to carry their flag.
In this setting we find small Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomeranc), who picks up chess from watching people playing in the park and soon shows his innate ability for the game. His parents soon find themselves in unfamiliar territory and have trouble coping with the requirements and stress even young chess players face. In an effort to help their son cultivate his gift, they contact Bruce Pandolfini, one of the most recognized chess coaches in the US (if you go to a bookstore and look for chess books you will see several written by him).
This is when the search for Bobby Fischer within this child begins, and the journey could not be better. Kingsley, Mantegna and Pomeranc are all very good in their roles and give their characters with the right amount of emotion and passion. But if I had to pick a performance, it would be the one by Laurence Fishburne, who plays a character that will remain imprinted in the memory of all those that watch this movie.
The fact that Pandolfini is presented in a slightly negative light, compared to reality and the modification of the end of the story do not really detract from the overall quality of the production. If you love chess, this movie is a must, but even if you do not, I bet you will really enjoy it.
I have the VHS version of this film and have now purchased the DVD. I originally bought it purely because it was about chess. There are not many chess films around (the Luhznin Defense is one), even fewer that feature much playing of chess, and none that will invoke the desire to play chess as much as this one. However, this is not just a chess movie. Sure, it's based on fact, featuring real names and places, but there is a real family story here too that will appeal to many who lack even a passing interest in the game of chess. The famous (in chess circles anyway) Bruce Pandolfini, author of many chess books, is played by Ben Kingsley. The real Bruce Pandolfini appears in the film, but only fleetingly as a spectator at a game. While Kinglsey portrays the classical chess tutor, Laurence Fishburne (of Matrix fame) brings some spice as a chess 'hustler', playing games of speed chess for cash. This film brings as much life and excitement to the game as many believe is possible. Let's face it, to the majority of people, chess is a very, very boring proposition. There is reverence of Bobby Fischer throughout the film. Given his current status, following his outbursts on a Minila radio station, this may spoil the film's longevity. Still, if you ignore the Fischer worship, this is a good film. Not spectacular, not riveting, not side-splittingly funny, but good. And that's just what you want every now and then, a film that is good to watch, with good actors, and a good story to boot...
This is one of these rare film about chess, for some a sport, for some others a game, for a few, a work, or his entire life. The story is about a little child from USA about seven years old with exceptional talent for playing chess. A chess teacher thinks he has the ability that had in his time Bobby Fischer, the legendary American champion which defeated Russia in his own game. The film deals with this theme with talent and delicately, as chess is I think, difficult to translate to cinema, but furthermore there are another problems, as how a practice so absorbent has to influence on the psychological equilibrium of a boy so young, as competitive high level chess demands not only intelligence, but the will to win with enormous patience and tenacity a child it's no normal to possess. And unfortunately isn't exceptional some stupid blind ambitious parents want to explode his son's capacities that themselves never attained in his whole, adult life as a substitutive of the success they never achieved. A truly dangerous temptation, toying with the life of another person, in this case, a son and a child. Truly, any game is only that, a toy, including playing cards or stock market... until you convert these in a way of winning your life or a profession, but by then these is yet a work, and work is for adults, not a task for children. The chess games are presented in a mostly spectacular speedy way not very real, but very own of USA cinema. This film is uncommon, worth and interesting if you know something about chess.
This is one of those rare films that stays with you, but without it being one individual element of the film that causes it.. There are no histrionics, no action scenes, it's not a comedy, nor a romance. And yet it is a love story. It is an ode to human appreciation, and to the fragility of the human mind. It is also a battle for the truth and balance of life. This film boasts an ensemble of great actors, where all the leads are magnificent, and magnificently understated. Laurence Fishburne as the inspirational street punk chess hustler, and Ben Kingsley as the emotionally shell-shocked ex-chess champion, deliver forcefully restrained performances, and Joe Mantegna delivers whirlwind of feelings as the father. But Max Pomeranc strides with assurance into his portrayal of seven year old Joshua, the chess prodigy. Watch out for some interesting cameos too.
Just the title is a promise that this film is decent, I agree with the other reviewer that there isnt many chess films about. But this is the only one I've been tryin to get on DVD, (believe it or not, i used to have it on VHS taped from the tele, never had an proper copy) and is the only one I've wanted, I've loved this film from since i first saw it, on tv lol years and years ago.
Now Im delighted to have found it on the internet..THANK THE GOOD UFO FOR THE INTERNET!!!
If you like chess, and chess related visual filmograughics.. then buy this.
I found this to be a very powerful film which whilst based around chess was even more about family and family values. The heroine of the piece was most certainly Josh's mother who was very clear about her values - she wanted the best for her son and was prepared to sacrifice her marriage to allow Josh to enjoy childhood. Not only does Josh's mother save her son from the rat race associated with chess at such competitive levels but also saves Josh's father and helps him find his true values which is his son's childhood.
As a family we loved this film. I will not spoil it too much for you, about chess champion and a little boy who taught himself initially, the game of chess, who went on to great things. I loved the underlying that you do not have to change who you are to be the person that achieves. Kindness can be part of a ruthless world in fact it is a must!.