Movie Review: The well-acted Pawn Sacrifice struggles to jazz up Bobby Fischer’s story

Viewers unfamiliar with the American chess champion Bobby Fischer might be forgiven for assuming, based on the casting of Tobey Maguire as a 30-ish Fischer in Pawn Sacrifice, that his genius was of the quiet, withdrawn variety. But while this movie version of Fischer does indeed suffer from mental health issues that make it difficult for him to form functional human relationships, one of the film’s strongest, most potentially surprising pleasures is the sight of Maguire playing both with and against his usual type. While this Fischer is a chess prodigy who spends a lot of time in his own head, easily distracted by bursts of life’s background noises, he also has a mouthy pro-athlete bravado that seems consistent with his Brooklyn upbringing. That attitude gives Maguire the opportunity to play a little meaner and wilder, reminiscent of his underrated work in Spider-Man 3 and The Good German …

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