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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pawn Sacrifice (2015)

It's the height of the Cold War and America's reigning chess champion Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) is being pushed to beat the Russian champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schrieber). But his mental deterioration and paranoia may prove to be his undoing. Based on the 1972 world chess championship that had the nation riveted, director Edward Zwick (GLORY) does an expert job of recreating the event and indeed, that period. It would seem quite difficult to make a thriller about such a cerebral game as chess and doubly difficult when we all know the outcome. But Zwick doesn't put all his eggs on the tournament but places the focus on Fischer's unraveling schizophrenia. I've always liked Tobey Maguire but he hasn't always had the best vehicles to show off his talent, he hasn't been this good in years. I had some problems with Michael Stuhlbarg as the "lawyer" with contacts in high places (like the government) whose performance seemed a caricature but the rest of the acting is first rate. The sparse underscore is by James Newton Howard. With Peter Sarsgaard, Lily Rabe, Conrad Pia and Robin Weigert.

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