An inquisitive French Riviera hotel maid (Sandrine Bonnaire) becomes entranced by a vacationing couple (Jennifer Beals, Dominic Gould) as they play chess on the hotel balcony. Tired of her humdrum existence, she quickly cultivates her curiosity for the game into an obsession. Her working-class husband doesn't share her fascination with the game, so she employs the help of the American expat and retired doctor (Kevin Kline) whose house she cleans a few times a week. As her passion for the game increases, her natural talent and hard work (done mostly in secret) lead her to a chance at a championship and a new shot at life.
First-timer Caroline Bottaro makes a solid debut in this uplifting and intricate film, adapted from Bertina Henrichs' novel The Chess Player. The always-charismatic Kline is impressive in his first entirely French-speaking role, and Bonnaire's rich central performance absolutely illuminates the screen. Bottaro reminds us that chess and life are often analogous, and that it is not necessarily how we start out that matters, but how we finish that is the most important.
Length: 96 minutes
Primary Cast: Sandrine Bonnaire, Kevin Kline, Francis Renaud, Jennifer Beals, Valérie Lagrange, Alexandra Gentil
Director: Caroline Bottaro
Screenwriters: Caroline Bottaro, Caroline Maly, Jeanne Le Guillou
Producers: Dominique Besnehard, Micher Feller, Amelie Latscha
Director of Photography: Jean-Claude Larrieu (AFC)
Editor: Tina Baz
Production Designer: Emmanuel de Chauvigny
Music: Nicola Piovani
Caroline Bottaro lives in Paris, France. In 1995 she wrote and directed the short film La Mère, starring Nathalie Baye. Bottaro wrote several films directed by Jean-Pierre Améris: Le Bateau de mariage (1993), Les Aveux de l'innocent (1996), La Fille préférée (2000), and C'est la vie (2001). Queen to Play is her first feature film.