DVD Queen to Play (DVD 15648921),
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Queen to Play

  • NR
  • DVD
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • A middle-aged maid with few prospects before her finds a new lease on life via the game of chess, in this unusual tale that marked the first directorial go-round of acclaimed scriptwriter Caroline Bottaro (LES AVEUX DE L'INNOCENT). French screen siren Sandrine Bonnaire ( NOS AMOURS) stars as Hlne, a Frenchwoman employed as a housekeeper in a posh Corsican hotel. Though devoted and diligent as a wife and mother, she lacks any real passion in her life. That changes in a single, defining instant when Helene espies a mysterious couple (the female played by Jennifer Beals) exchanging erotic glances and seductive gestures over a chessboard, on a nearby balcony. Feeling sexual arousal, Hlne misguidedly tries to parlay this into her own personal life by giving her boatworker husband an electronic chessboard, but the connection between this and a need for greater intimacy eludes him. Hlne's curiosity about chess nonetheless endures, and when she fails to teach herself to play sans assistance, she turns to an eccentric, reclusive American whose house she cleans, Dr. Kroger (Kevin Kline) and asks him to mentor her in the game. In time, her expertise outstrips Kroger's and she begins to live and breathe chess, but this very passion also threatens to alienate the woman's family, who perceive a form of infidelity in this new obsession.
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  • Credits
    Sandrine Bonnaire, Kevin Kline, Francis Renaud, Jennifer Beals, Valerie Lagrange
  • Critic Reviews
    "An actress of exceptional presence with a magical smile and the ability to look both beautiful and ordinary, Bonnaire runs through a wide range of emotions and makes us believe them all."
    Los Angeles Times

    "Just as the queen is the most powerful piece on the chessboard, the compelling French actress Sandrine Bonnaire holds together this gentle tale of chess and midlife emotions..." -- Grade: B
    Entertainment Weekly

    "Caroline Bottaro's tangy comic bonbon, QUEEN TO PLAY plucks the game of chess out of the metaphorical realm of spy thrillers and reimagines it as a fable about relationships and upward mobility....
    New York Times

    3.5 stars out of 4 -- "The film has some sly fun with the way chess consumes Helene's mind..."
    Chicago Sun-Times

    3 stars out of 4-- "[A] subtle, absorbing film....A film whose pleasures reside in quiet moments, understated performances and the reading of subtitles."
    Washington Post

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