Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of Queen of Katwe

Roughly 15 minutes into Mira Nair’s new film Queen of Katwe, and your defenses are down. Good luck trying to resist the charms of this uplifting true-life drama. 
A young girl from the slums in Uganda discovers that she’s a chess prodigy, and with help from her coach she pursues her dream of becoming a champion and moving her family out of abject poverty.
Sports films tend to stick to a predictable template, and this one too follows the beats of many an inspirational underdog story. But it’s also an unusually affecting film that transcends the familiar formula.
For one, Nair’s depiction of African culture is rich and captivating. Katwe, the sprawling slum outside Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is a rough neighborhood, but Nair makes the most out of the locations with plenty of vibrant colors. She also does a great job of bringing out the best in her cast.
Newcomer Madina Nalwanga stars as Phiona Mutesi, the nine-year-old protagonist and future chess champion, whom we first meet selling maize in the street to help support her family. Nalwanga, whom Nair discovered near Katwe, effortlessly conveys both the character’s shyness and determination, her wide-eyed fascination when she first stumbles onto the game, and even her crushing disappointment on the occasions when she realizes she has a long way to achieve her dream.
As her widowed mother Harriet, unwilling to let go of her pride while all along struggling to provide for her children, Lupita Nyong’o is nothing short of a revelation, capable of expressing multiple complex emotions with a single glance. Afraid initially that Phiona may be setting herself up for heartbreak in chasing a dream that’s out of her reach, Harriet is suspicious and dismissive, and Nyong’o conveys a mother’s protective instinct most naturally. Then there’s David Oyelowo, who infuses warmth and kindness and empathy into the role of Robert Katende, a soccer player turned missionary who sets up a chess club, notices Phiona’s talent, and grooms her for international tournaments. In the hands of less competent actors, the inspiring coach and the stubborn mother might have been reduced to stock caricatures, but Oyelowo and Nyong’o never let that happen.
There is humor in the interactions between Katende’s ragtag group of chess prodigies who travel around Africa and to Russia. And there are several metaphors about how the strategies of chess apply to life itself. To her credit, Nair never shies away from showing the hardships of poverty, homelessness, and a lack of food and education. The film is stronger, and its message clearer because of that.
I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Queen of Katwe. The blatant sports-movie clichés aside, this is a genuinely moving film with winning performances.

Did you like this blog?*
How did you find this blog?*
What kind of articles would you like to read on the blog?*
Name:*
E-mail:*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


3 − = zero

More in Rajeev Masand

  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Tu Hai Mera Sunday

    Cast: Barun Sobti, Shahana Goswami, Vishal Malhotra, Avinash Tiwary, Nakul Bhalla, Jay Upadhyay Director: Milind Dhaimade Sunday is just one of those days of...

    BMS EditorOctober 6, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Chef

    Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Padmapriya Janakiraman, Svar Kamble, Milind Soman, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sobhita Dhulipala Director: Raja Krishna Menon As feel-good films go, Chef,...

    BMS EditorOctober 6, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of American Made

    Cast: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones Director: Doug Liman It’s been a while since Tom...

    BMS EditorSeptember 29, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Judwaa 2

    Cast: Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Tapsee Pannu, Rajpal Yadav, Vivaan Bhatena, Upasana Singh, Anupam Kher, Sachin Khedekar, Manoj Pahwa  Director: David Dhawan Judwaa...

    BMS EditorSeptember 29, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Newton

    Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav, Anjali Patil, Mukesh Prajapati Director: Amit V Masurkar Above all things, Newton, directed by Amit Masurkar, is...

    BMS EditorSeptember 22, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Haseena Parkar

    Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhant Kapoor, Ankur Bhatia Director: Apoorva Lakhia It’s bad enough that Shraddha Kapoor looks nothing like the real Haseena Parkar...

    BMS EditorSeptember 22, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Lucknow Central

    In Lucknow Central, a bunch of desperate prison inmates turn to music in the hope of securing their freedom. Surface-level similarities to Qaidi...

    BMS EditorSeptember 15, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Simran

    Hansal Mehta's cleverly titled new film Simran, starring Kangana Ranaut, has that rarest of things that’s practically gone missing from the movies...

    BMS EditorSeptember 15, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review Of IT

    A big reason that so many horror movies today feel underwhelming may have little to do with the films at all....

    BMS EditorSeptember 8, 2017

All articles/blogs are intended to inform, entertain and amuse. We make no representations or guarantees about the truth, accuracy or quality of any content.

Copyright 2017 © Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Subscribe to our email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news!
Thank You For Subscribing To Us!

Now get regular updates on the latest entertainment news and style trends.

Providing you with the best of Bollywood, Hollywood, style and more.
Get the best in entertainment, while keeping yourself entertained!
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.
×
×
WordPress Popup