Netflix Pick: ‘Searching For Bobby Fischer’

Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993)
Written & Directed by Steven Zaillian
110 mins.

By Tim Lucia

For two decades, Steven Zaillian has been one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters.  Penning such films as Schindler’s List, Awakenings, and American Gangster, Zaillian made himself one of the very few screenwriters recognizable to the common fan.  His first directorial effort, Searching For Bobby Fischer has held up quite well, 18 years after it’s release in 1993.  Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomeranc) lives a fairly privileged life in Manhattan with his parents (Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen).  Josh quickly becomes infatuated with the local speed chess players in Washington Square Park, and hustler Vinnie (Laurence Fishburne) takes a shine to him.  As Josh’s father begins to realize his son has a gift for the game of chess, he hires scholarly chess coach Bruce (Ben Kingsley) to tutor him.  Bruce’s calculated, measured chess teachings conflict with Vinnie’s aggressive, risky methods, from which Josh originally learned.  Josh begins to doubt his talent and his passion for the game just as the big tournament arrives.  Searching For Bobby Fischer is an intelligent, thoughtful film that weaves together history and the present, the poor and the rich, parents and their children.  A very good family film anyone can enjoy.

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