Pawn Sacrifice Review

“… managed to keep me interested despite me not knowing about the topic.”

Pawn Sacrifice is a movie about Bobby Fischer; a man who, before seeing this movie, I only knew of because of a Saturday Night Live skit. For those who are in the same boat that I was Bobby Fischer was a guy who was really good at chess. Like I mean, really good. The movie shows his rise to fame, as well as the unfortunate deterioration of his mental health.

Now like I said I knew nothing about Bobby Fischer going into this movie and I think that worked to my benefit because it allowed me to be really involved in the story. The one thing that I would hold against the movie is the fact that it seems to switch topics very quickly. By that I mean, the difference between scenes could be day and night, which leaves the audience grasping for an explanation. This could be because Bobby Fischer really was so mentally ill that he would change behaviours rapidly, but that doesn’t help the feeling of being lost while watching a scene. The one thing this movie did well was convey the game of chess to a person who knows nothing of the game (me). They accomplished this by giving us a character (in this case Bobby’s lawyer, Paul Marshall) who, like me, knew nothing of the game which allowed other characters to explain to him what was happening in more ‘simple’ terms. This enabled me to be engrossed in the story even though I knew nothing about the topic. Despite that, the movie was absolutely tragic. I had no idea that Bobby Fischer was such an ill man, but this movie (if it was accurate) made me feel bad for not learning about him sooner. Of course the tragedy was only so well presented because of the acting, Tobey Maguire doing an amazing job as Bobby Fischer. Not only did Tobey Maguire give one of the best performances of his career, but all of the supporting characters did an amazing job as well. I already mentioned the character of Paul Marshall who was played wonderfully by Michael Stuhlbarg, but there was also Peter Sarsgaard who played Father Bill Lombardy, and Liev Schreiber who played Bobby’s opponent Boris Spassky. Of course there are countless others that all did amazing in their roles, but I don’t have the motivation to sit here and type all of their names. And the cherry on top of this already great movie was all of the immersive details that were added. By that I mean the use of the grainy film effect, the old news clips (which I assume are real), the use of music from the time period, and even the score of the film. I have to say that during one of the final games of chess the score that was playing had me in awe. It was intense, it had influences of different periods, it was calculated. Let’s just suffice it to say that it was perfect for the scene.

Overall Pawn Sacrifice is a great movie that managed to keep me interested despite me not knowing about the topic. It has great acting, a great score, and a tragic yet wonderful story.

I give Pawn Sacrifice a B

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