Screening: February 12, 2012



Joueuse / Queen to Play

Caroline Bottaro

2008 / 96 min.


Click here to see the trailer and read more about the film.



The film will be introduced by junior French major Lydia Kinkaid.


(Photo: Zeitgeist Films)



This charming first film by writer-director Caroline Bottaro stars the peerless Sandrine Bonnaire as Hélène, a dutiful, middle-aged wife and mother and hard-working maid at an exclusive resort in Corsica whose obsession with chess leads to a powerful transformation. After bicycling to work—a gorgeous scene that shows off the Mediterranean island’s breathtaking beauty—Hélène notices an amorous couple playing chess while she changes the sheets in their room. Simultaneously turned on and transfixed, Hélène teaches herself to play the game, staying up until all hours of the night as she tries to understand its intricate strategies. When her practical-minded husband shows little interest in playing the board game with her, she beseeches the reclusive American intellectual, whose house she cleans, to be her chess partner. Though their game-time slowly becomes erotically charged, Bottaro wisely focuses on the ways chess reenergizes Hélène, whose life had become mere routine. The greatest pleasure in Queen to Play is watching Hélène’s intense concentration as she contemplates her next move on the board, particularly in the triumphant final scene.