Critic Reviews



Based on 23 critic reviews provided by
A film of remarkable sensitivity and insight.
A riveting screen adventure.
Writer-director Steven Zaillian proves as much of a prodigy as his chess-playing subject, turning out a film that is a beautifully calibrated model of honestly sentimental filmmaking, made with delicacy, restraint and unmistakable emotional power. The feelings it goes for are almost never the easy or obvious ones, and the levers it presses are all the more effective because of that.
One of the craftiest and most satisfying pieces about gender politics to come along in ages.
Even though this film may do for chess what "The Red Shoes" did for ballet, it works movingly and most effectively as a family drama.
Searching for Bobby Fischer is a story that sounds, on paper, like something that shouldn't succeed as a movie but when played out so remarkably by all the parties involved, it becomes an unexpected treat.
With this touching story about a boy learning to play chess, Zaillian cuts an impressive debut, brining out strong performances from his cast most notably the young Pomeranc who is genuinely moving a the chess genius, even when he's not talking we are able to know what he's thinking, a rarity amongst child actors.
Searching for Bobby Fischer is an intensely fascinating movie capable of involving those who are ignorant about chess as well as those who love it. The focus of the film is less on the actual game than it is on the people, emotions, and pressures surrounding Josh. It is a tale of human trials and triumph, not a sports movie that panders to a certain segment of the population. Chess may not be the most exciting activity to watch, but Searching for Bobby Fischer makes for engaging entertainment.
Though SEARCHING finally ties up its loose ends a little too neatly, what comes before that is a joy; an engrossing, witty story about far more than chess, directed with a flawless eye for detail and superbly performed by some of the best actors around--including young Mr. Pomeranc.
Unfortunately, as scripter, debuting director Steven Zaillian (who wrote Awakenings) also feels compelled to throw in Karate Kid-type flourishes, a rather stale genre that doesn’t lend itself all that well to chess. The narrative is ruthlessly edited, jumping around in a manner that skips needed exposition and abandons characters.

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