After he beats his dad (Joe Mantegna) in a chess match, Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomeranc), a 7-year-old, gets noticed for his talent. He becomes interested in speed chess at the park and learns the game from a hustler named Vinnie (Laurence Fishburne). However, Josh’s parents invest in the services of Bruce (Ben Kingsley), a famous coach who has very different practices. Between Bruce’s methods and the stress of the competitions, Josh learns that even a chess prodigy cannot make all the right moves.
The movie is based on the true story of prodigy chess player Joshua Waitzkin adapted from the book Searching for Bobby Fischer by Joshua’s father Fred Waitzkin. Screenplay is by Steven Zaillian, who is also the director of the movie. The movie tries to show the different approaches of Bruce and Vinnie and it shows that Josh enjoys playing the way Vinnie taught him but then for some odd reason it shows him playing moves that were taught by Bruce.
Some scenes are very good like the scene where his father first finds out his son Josh is a chess prodigy or the scenes where Josh is playing chess in the park or the scene where Josh’s mom asks Bruce to leave or the scene where Josh deliberately loses to a kid or the scene where Fred gets into an argument with Josh’s school teacher. The best scene of the movie is the scene with his dad after Josh loses in seven moves.
Max Pomeranc is excellent as Josh. Joe Mantegna is very good as his father. Joan Allen is good as his mother.
Ben Kingsley is good as Bruce Pandolfini. Laurence Fishburne is very good as Vinnie. Michael Nirenberg is very good as Jonathan Poe. William H. Macy is good in a small role.
The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Steven Zaillian’s direction is very good. The movie is about how Josh is afraid of losing at Chess and thereby losing his dad’s love. The movie very sensitively portrays a young Chess prodigy who doesn’t want to win at any cost.
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