Caroline Bottaro

Caroline Bottaro & Caroline Maly. Adapted from Bertina Henrichs’ The Chess Player.

Hélène: Sandrine Bonnaire
Dr. Kröger: Kevin Kline
Maria: Valérie Lagrange
Ange: Francis Renaud


Zeitgeist Films

PRODUCTION: France, Germany, 2008
RATING: Not Rated
GAUGE: 35mm, Blu-ray, DVD, HDCAM

“Sandrine Bonnaire’s … slow transformation - from hard-working wife and mother to fey creature of complex strategies and secret smiles - proves riveting, for both the audience and her fictional mentor (Kevin Kline).”
Ronnie Scheib, Variety

This charming first film by writer-director Caroline Bottaro stars the peerless Sandrine Bonnaire as Hélène, a dutiful, middle-aged wife and mother and hard-working maid at an exclusive resort in Corsica whose obsession with chess leads to a powerful transformation. After bicycling to work—a gorgeous scene that shows off the Mediterranean island’s breathtaking beauty—Hélène notices an amorous couple playing chess while she changes the sheets in their room. Simultaneously turned on and transfixed, Hélène teaches herself to play the game, staying up until all hours of the night as she tries to understand its intricate strategies. When her practical-minded husband shows little interest in playing the board game with her, she beseeches the reclusive American intellectual, whose house she cleans, to be her chess partner. Though their game-time slowly becomes erotically charged, Bottaro wisely focuses on the ways chess reenergizes Hélène, whose life had become mere routine. The greatest pleasure in Queen to Play is watching Hélène’s intense concentration as she contemplates her next move on the board, particularly in the triumphant final scene.






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