Joueuse (Queen To Play) – Film Review

The French film Joueuse (Queen To Play), is a sweet, delicate delight. Starring Kevin Kline in his first French-speaking roll, along with Sandrine Bohnnaire, the film is primarily about relationships. Those between friends, family members, employees and employers and perhaps, the importance of balance and change in one’s life.

Helene is a chambermaid at a small hotel, on the island of Corsica, who also moonlights as a housekeeper for recluse widower, Dr. Kroger (Kevin Kline). After overseeing a couple at the hotel engaged in a sultry game of chess when she comes to clean their room, Helene finds herself entranced by the game and is determined to learn it. Under the tutelage of Dr. Kroger, Helene discovers she has a true skill, but the costs of developing that talent weigh heavily on those all around her.

Kline shines in his role, and his mastery of French is impressive. The dynamic between Bohnnaire and Kline is refreshing, as it deftly navigates the dynamic of two adults of the opposite sex, engaged in a platonic relationship based on knowledge and loneliness. Chess becomes a metaphor for a number of things by the end of the film including love, control, obsession, escape, addiction and language to name a few. This film may inspire a few people to pick up the game, I know I’m thinking about it.

Queen To Play is playing the Loft Cinema starting July 8, 3233 E. Speedway Boulevard. For showtimes visits 795-7777.


About Herb Stratford

Arts and culture writer and film reviewer. Historic theatre restoration consultant. Artist and arts educator.
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