If you’ve spent the past 22 years searching for Bobby Fischer, or at least an actual biopic about the legendary chess player, look no further. Never mind that we already got this whole story recently in HBO’s tense documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World. You want a biopic. You thought Searching for Bobby Fischer was one. You want Pawn Sacrifice.
Tobey Maguire is one of three people portraying Fischer in the movie, following Paranormal Activity 4’s Aiden Lovekamp in the role as a boy and The Omen remake’s Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick playing him as a teen. Maguire is sure to get the majority of the screen time, as the movie focuses on the famous 1972 match against Soviet chess champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) and Fischer’s subsequent reclusion.
Pawn Sacrifice, which is directed by Ed Zwick (Glory), isn’t actually the first biopic on the grandmaster. There’s also 2009’s Bobby Fischer Live, which is co-written and directed by and stars Damian Chapa in the lead role – with his own sons Presly and Ricco respectively playing Fischer as a young boy and teen. It’s supposedly quite bad, though, especially if you know a lot about the subject and see through all its mistakes.
The newer biopic, on the other hand, received mostly positive reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. Maguire was praised by many for his performance, some even calling it his best yet. But I don’t know if I buy him as Fischer yet. I also don’t want this to be just another movie coasting on the easy Cold War themes and interest in how American versus Soviet matches of any kind played into propaganda for both sides. And yeah, I don’t know if there’s anything to get out of the dramatic telling that I didn’t get from the 2011 doc by Liz Garbus.
Pawn Sacrifice opens on September 18th.
In the meantime, check out the trailers for Bobby Fischer Live and Bobby Fischer Against the World: