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There is an addictive fascination for the game a chess; a game demanding tremendous mental acuity, agility and as much stamina and strength as any contact sport. The subject has held the same “draw” for filmmakers and documentarians in recent years: “Queen to Play”, “Bobby Fischer Against the World”, “Searching for Bobby Fischer” and 2015’s “Pawn Sacrifice” ; directed by Edward Zwick and screen writer Steven Knight (“Locke”) is a compelling, provocative study of the tormented prodigy , Bobby Fisher (1943-2008 ). Brilliantly, dazzlingly portrayed by Tobey Maguire; stunningly, cunningly he’s burrowed into the psyche of the chess genius, splays across the screen Fischer’s march toward madness, in tandem with his celestial command of the game.

“Pawn Sacrifice” commences with the 1972 iconic world championship match, in Iceland, against Russian, Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber, gives a worthy and dignified interpretation); Fischer is suffering a massive meltdown; his demons, delusions and paranoia are cancerously devouring his sanity; he feels persecuted by the press, Jews (of which he is one); his handlers: Paul Marshall (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Father Bill Lombardy (Peter Sarsgaard shines with his quiet, intense, riveting depiction) a former chess champion, strive to cauterize Bobby’s unscrupulous demands and tendentious, outlandish behavior.

Essentially, “Pawn Sacrifice” is a metaphor for the destructiveness, corruption of inordinate notoriety, fame lavished on the gifted but unprepared; pathetic Bobby Fischer, handsome, tall and trim, troubled, isolated as a child;  ultimately, just a “pawn” sacrificed on the “board” of his choosing.

THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!


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