This biopic reminded me of "Ali"--it ran through all the obvious parts
of a famous man's life, parts you could glean from reading a Wikipedia
bio, threw in some over-dramatic music and a backstory about "family"
and viola! --biopic to order.
If you are clueless about who Bobby Fischer was, then you will probably
like this film, because you won't roll your eyes at all the chess
clichés, you won't get bored at being shown the obvious things about
Fischer (such as the details around the 1972 Reykjavik match), and you
will probably enjoy the novelty of the whole thing.
But who are we kidding? This event happened 44 years ago. If you don't
know about it by now, you are either very young or you live under a
rock. The film did not really try and show any INSIGHT into Fischer; it
just replayed the same record that anyone who knows ANYTHING about
Fischer already knew. But even then, they took liberties that were not
only inaccurate, but unnecessary and just distracting.
First of all, Bobby Fischer was a man from BROOKLYN. Everything about
the way this guy walked and talked showed he was a city kid, a real NEW
YAWKAH. Did you get that sense from Tobey's impression? I didn't. Tobey
didn't really sound all that Brooklyn-ish. In the famous Cavett
interview, the real Fischer bragged, but he did it in a way that was a
bit endearing. Tobey instead made him sound like an ass.
Second, Fischer was tall and lanky, and even gaunt-looking because of
that, yet Tobey was short and puffy-faced. Bad casting. Alexander
Saarsgaard (not Peter, as in the movie!) would have been a much better
Third, Spassky was a consummate gentleman. He never spoke to Fischer
like that during a game, or flipped over chairs to inspect them, and I
didn't buy the hotel room tantrum, which was really a transparent
device to make it appear that even Spassky was sick of the Soviet
Fourth, Fischer received a cheap plastic set when he was younger and
used to play a lot with his sister, and then IN THE CLOSET. Instead
they show him sitting on the bed with a very nice wooden set, and the
next thing you know, he's beating strong club players. The entire youth
of Bobby Fischer was quickly skimmed over, although I did very much
like the part about the Russian mother, although I have a hard time
believing they were self-professed Jews, esp. with the rather sloppy
behavior of the mother.
Fifth, his second Lombardy, although he was a former priest, did not go
around wearing his priest outfit, esp. to Reykjavik.
Sixth, to say game 6 was the "greatest chess game ever played" is quite
pretentious! I can think of a particular Marshall game which is more
exciting and filled with more nuance.
Seventh, I don't buy Fischer losing his virginity to some hottie in the
hotel; they could at least have made him more charming if they're going
to embellish like that.
Finally, and this is most important--Fischer's mental demise was not
really that pronounced at Reykjavik. Yes, he complained and was a prima
donna, and suspected the Russians of cheating. But he didn't go
full-bore on the Jews and the Zionist conspiracy thing until years
later. The film was not ambitious enough to explore possibly WHY
Fischer turned into a loon; it was complacent and even eager to just
SHOW his looniness.
The acting was decent. And the whole story--framing it as a cold war
battle between the US and Soviet Russia, was fitting, but easy--esp.
when they simply interspliced a lot of period footage and music between
Avoid if you already know about Fischer's story and are a chess player!