French hotel chambermaid Helene (Sandrine Bonnaire), is cleaning a room and notices the couple staying in the room playing chess on the terrace. Helene is spellbound by the interplay of the young, beautiful couple, the elegance in which the chess pieces are moved around the board, the woman's smile, the breeze messing her hair, the controlled frustration of her chess partner. Whatever it is that piques Helene's interest, and she can never say what it was, she is smitten by the game. As a result, Helene, middle-aged mother of a teen (Alice Pol) who is ashamed of her working class parents and wife of a Ange (Francis Renaud) hard working husband who has lost the spark of intimacy, her life is forever changed.
Helene becomes obsessed with the game. She demands her employer whose home she cleans, Dr. Kroger (Kevin Kline) plays with her and mentors her. This, in turn, causes profound changes to his reclusive life. Helene has found her true calling in life, something she didn't even realize she was missing. She had become fulfilled and nothing will stand in her way. Helene must play, she just compete. We watch this unprepossessed woman actualize before our eyes, and it's a glorious process.
Plus, t all takes place in Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean, some may call remote, but others would say it's tranquil, rustic and beautiful. I love riding the hills to the coast with her each morning.
Queen to Play
Director: Caroline Bottaro
Writer: Caroline Bottaro and Caroline Maly based on the novel 'The Chess Player,' by Bertina Henrichs
Cast: Sandrine Bonnaire, Kevin Kline, Francis Renaud, Valerie Lagrange, Alexandra Gentil, Alice Pol
Time: 96 min.
Opening May 6 in a Landmark Theatre in San Francisco