Pawn Sacrifice | Salt Lake City Weekly
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  Rated PG-13 · 114 minutes · 2015

Biography, Historical drama
Film biographies fight constantly against the reality that human lives don’t usually have neat narrative arcs—but this one feels more tin-eared than most regarding how to deal with that problem. Tobey Maguire plays Bobby Fischer, the American chess prodigy whose talents made him a threat to Russian champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in the early 1970s—and hence a kind of Cold War-era hero. He also wrestled with undiagnosed mental illness throughout his life, and while director Edward Zwick works overtime to try to convey the way the world looked and sounded to him, it generally feels as though Steven Knight’s screenplay turns the basic story structure into an underdog sports drama, all building to the 1972 World Championship matches against Spassky. The performances are uniformly solid, with Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg—as Fischer’s main confidants—supporting Maguire’s egotistic volatility as Fischer. But while the upshot here would seem to be the tragedy of an amazing gift cut short from opportunities to flourish, too much of the rest of Pawn Sacrifice tilts the balance towards “but hey, it was so awesome what happened in ’72.”


Staff Rating:
Director: Edward Zwick
Producer: Gail Katz, Tobey Maguire and Edward Zwick
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lily Rabe, Robin Weigert, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Aiden Lovekamp, Conrad Pla, Evelyne Brochu, Sophie Nélisse and Andreas Apergis

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