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Review: Queen to Play

 Determined to learn
By GERALD PEARY  |  May 4, 2011
2.0 2.0 Stars

A hotel maid, Hélène (Sandrine Bonnaire), in a French resort sees a glamorous foreigner (Jennifer Beals) playing chess one day, and she's determined to learn to play herself. So she recruits the grumpy, reclusive doctor (Kevin Kline) for whom she cleans house to educate her. It's the old Norma Rae tale of the working-class woman who becomes obsessive over a cause and is helped by an educated mentor while alienating her jealous brute of a husband. But Norma Rae was a rousing tale of union organizing, whereas this one is a torpid story of a femme familiarizing herself with pawns and rooks. Credit filmmaker Caroline Bottaro for setting her story on the island of Corsica — how else could she have snagged an A-list of actors for this minor, forgettable movie?

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