Pawn Sacrifice Film Analysis

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The only other film that anyone can recall that alludes to Bobby Fischer’s life is Searching For Bobby Fischer. Pawn Sacrifice is a darker, more mature, more painful take on his life, specifically, versus on another chess player enamored by and torn by Bobby Fischer. What immediately stood out to me are the compelling aesthetics and cinematography, actually. I did not check prior to seeing the film, but after, I realised that the cinematographer for Pawn Sacrifice is one of my faves, Bradford Young. His genius can be seen in Pariah, Middle of Nowhere, Selma and A Most Violent Year, for example.

Pawn Sacrifice truly conveys the visual sense of Cold War-era politics, quite relevant to the story since Bobby’s chess career leads him on a path directly to
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With his friends. With his family. With his competitors. All chess pieces on the board of his tortured life. During some moments he was the queen, seemingly moving about with great power to protect the king which is his unyielding genius; during other moments he is just a pawn, sacrificed in a game that he ultimately could not win, the one with his delusions, despair, and loneliness. I really thought that this film was going to be about chess…and it is, but it really is not at times. Unfortunately, I felt like Toby Maguire’s acting truly sucked the air out of the room quite a bit. For me, it felt like he was himself, not the character. I had difficulty imagining him as Fischer. It felt like Toby having tantrums; Toby having paranoid delusions (though some of these scenes still made me cry; it is painful to watch, regardless); Toby wanting a silence in physical space that was almost unachievable. His portrayal, while intense, was not convincing to me during most of the film. I kept having to remind myself that he was portraying Bobby
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