The late Bobby Fischer was a chess player prodigy as well as a widely-recognized (eccentric) genius and controversial figure – so, it was inevitable that he would receive the Hollywood biopic treatment, eventually. Fischer’s story has been explored before in the 2011 documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World (and his experiences were touched upon in Searching for Bobby Fischer), but the upcoming Pawn Sacrifice will offer a more unique creative interpretation of Fischer’s life and character.
Pawn Sacrifice will touch upon Fischer’s days as a child gifted in the art of chess playing, as illustrated by the film’s newly-released trailer. However, it would appear that the main focus of the movie will be Fischer’s 1972 showdown with the Russian chess master Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber, whose has Polish/Russian ancestry on his mother’s side) – a battle that carried with it heavy political symbolism, seeing as it took place when Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Union were very much running high.
David Fincher was lined up to direct Pawn Sacrifice at one point, as it were. That makes sense, as Fischer (who, as an adult, is played by Tobey Maguire in the film) is very much the sort of prickly, yet at the same time quite fascinating and methodical figure (who often borders on madness) that would surely interest the equally precision-minded storyteller that is Fincher. Ultimately, though, Fincher decided to followup The Social Network with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, rather than another biographical feature about an interesting, if not exactly friendly, smart guy.
Pawn Sacrifice, instead, was directed by Oscar-winner Edward Zwick of Glory and The Last Samurai fame (and Schreiber’s director on WWII drama/thriller Defiance). Zwick is pretty consistent, when it comes to the quality of his directorial efforts; going by the trailer footage, Pawn Sacrifice is shaping up to be a perfectly well-made (if unextraordinary) biopic. Similarly, the script made the 2009 Hollywood Black List of Best Unproduced Screenplays – and Oscar-nominated scribe Steven Knight’s body of work speaks for itself (Eastern Promises, Locke, Peaky Binders).
Early reviews for Pawn Sacrifice (from the 2014 Toronto Film Festival) praise Maguire’s turn as Mr. Fisher; Variety referred to it as an “angry, bristling lead performance” in an otherwise “straightforward but focused biopic.” Similarly, THR‘s review mentions that the film includes “solid performances” from Maguire and Schreiber alike, but describes the film as overall being “a classically helmed biopic that brings nothing new to the genre.” Still, on the whole, it looks (and sounds) like Pawn Sacrifice may be worth checking out.
Pawn Sacrifice opens in U.S. theaters on September 18th, 2015.
Source: Bleecker Street Media