Queen to Play

Overview

A middle-aged maid with few prospects before her finds a new lease on life via the game of chess, in this unusual tale that marked the first directorial go-round of acclaimed scriptwriter Caroline Bottaro Les Aveux de l'innocent. French screen siren Sandrine Bonnaire À Nos Amours stars as Hélène, a Frenchwoman employed as a housekeeper in a posh Corsican hotel. Though devoted and diligent as a wife and mother, she lacks any real passion in her life. That changes in a single, defining instant when Helene espies a ...
See more details below
DVD (Subtitled)
$27.20
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$29.99 List Price
Other sellers (DVD)
  • All (9) from $13.68   
  • New (6) from $17.74   
  • Used (3) from $13.68   

Overview

A middle-aged maid with few prospects before her finds a new lease on life via the game of chess, in this unusual tale that marked the first directorial go-round of acclaimed scriptwriter Caroline Bottaro Les Aveux de l'innocent. French screen siren Sandrine Bonnaire À Nos Amours stars as Hélène, a Frenchwoman employed as a housekeeper in a posh Corsican hotel. Though devoted and diligent as a wife and mother, she lacks any real passion in her life. That changes in a single, defining instant when Helene espies a mysterious couple the female played by Jennifer Beals exchanging erotic glances and seductive gestures over a chessboard, on a nearby balcony. Feeling sexual arousal, Hélène misguidedly tries to parlay this into her own personal life by giving her boatworker husband an electronic chessboard, but the connection between this and a need for greater intimacy eludes him. Hélène's curiosity about chess nonetheless endures, and when she fails to teach herself to play sans assistance, she turns to an eccentric, reclusive American whose house she cleans, Dr. Kroger Kevin Kline and asks him to mentor her in the game. In time, her expertise outstrips Kroger's and she begins to live and breathe chess, but this very passion also threatens to alienate the woman's family, who perceive a form of infidelity in this new obsession.
Read More Show Less

Special Features

"Le Making of Jouseuse": a 20-minute behind-the-scenes documentary featuring interviews with actor Kevin Kline, Sandrine Bonnaire, Jennifer Beals and director Caroline Bottaro ; U.S. theatrical trailer
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
When we first meet Hélène Sandrine Bonnaire, the provincial French housewife and hotel maid at the center of director Caroline Bottaro's drama Queen to Play, she seems almost scrubbed clean to the point of androgyny -- hair pulled back tightly behind her head, dowdy clothes, no makeup -- homeliness on every level. The sense of restraint in her aura is unmistakable, and that extends to her inner emotional life. She's all bottled up, tightly wound, and well out of touch with any inner longings -- so much so that when a dissatisfied co-worker asks her, "Didn't you ever want to leave [and go somewhere else]?" Hélène responds unassumingly, "I don't know, I never thought about it." Yet a life-altering event occurs about 15 minutes into the picture. While Hélène cleans the hotel room of an American couple Dominic Gould and Jennifer Beals playing chess on a balcony adjacent to the room, her eyes fall on their erotic physical interplay, and associations from the scene take root in her mind. She realizes that some vital element is missing in her marriage and her life, and begins almost subconsciously attempting to rectify this -- with actions that simultaneously cry out for greater physical and emotional intimacy in her marriage, and demonstrate an overwhelming interest in chess; for Hélène, the two are inseparable. A fascination and then an obsession with the game overtake her. Before long, she's not only sitting up until 4:00 a.m. and playing solo games with an electronic chess set, but taking lessons from an enigmatic recluse named Dr. Kröger Kevin Kline, whose lavish house she regularly cleans. The central trope of a sheltered woman growing into herself and discovering her passion in life is an ancient one, so it is quite a testament to Bottaro's remarkable storytelling instinct, and to the preternatural abilities of Bonnaire and Kline as thespians, that they lift this material from the banal into the realm of the sublime. Directorially speaking, Bottaro brings her central character's metamorphosis across with unspeakable grace, and succeeds at creating something emotionally overwhelming. In terms of the actors, Bonnaire seems to innately grasp Hélène's transition. We witness the character's emotions coming unbound and a physical transformation overtaking her through Bonnaire's gradual shift in the way that Hélène carries herself. As for the psychological relationship between Hélène and Kröger, there have been few sequences in movies quite comparable to the pas de deux between these two individuals. Deliberately paralleling the game at the center of the story, each exchange of words or glances between Hélène and Kröger artfully filmed with a much greater emphasis on facial close-ups than the board itself is a small masterpiece of conflicting emotions, subtle inferences, and second guesses, with chess itself ultimately used as an metaphor for all emotional interchanges between man and woman. This philosophical element makes the European source of the picture readily apparent. The film does falter on occasion; in particular, vague hints of excursions into metaphysical territory in the third act feel underdeveloped and ill-advised. Nonetheless, it has much to compensate for that, including not simply the aforementioned performances, but occasional flashes of wit, undercurrents of eroticism, one of the most haunting musical scores in memory by Nicola Piovani, and -- significantly -- cinematic literacy. Bottaro sets up the final shot to deliberately ape Bonnaire's debut, in Maurice Pialat's 1983 À Nos Amours, and the contrast between the adolescent stasis of that earlier character and the dynamism of the one in this film reinforces one's sense of Hélène's maturation, and her potential for future growth.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/16/2011
  • UPC: 795975113632
  • Original Release: 2009
  • Rating:

  • Source: Zeitgeist Films
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Subtitled
  • Time: 1:37:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 39,086

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sandrine Bonnaire Hélène
Kevin Kline Dr. Kroger
Francis Renaud Ange
Jennifer Beals The American Woman
Valerie Lagrange Maria
Alexandra Gentil Lisa
Alice Pol Natalia
Elisabeth Vitali Marie-Jeanne
Dominic Gould The American Man
Daniel Martin Chess Club President
Didier Ferrari
Laurence Colussi
Valérie Tréjean
Technical Credits
Caroline Bottaro Director, Screenwriter
Selim Azzazi Sound/Sound Designer
Dominique Besnehard Producer
Emmanuel Croset Sound/Sound Designer
Emmanuel de Chauvigny Set Decoration/Design
Michel Feller Producer
Tina Baz Le Gal Editor
Dorothee Guiraud Costumes/Costume Designer
Erwan Kerzanet Sound/Sound Designer
Jean-Philippe Laroche Executive Producer
Jean-Claude Larrieu Cinematographer
Amelie Latscha Co-producer
Caroline Maly Screenwriter
Felix Moeller Co-producer
Nicola Piovani Score Composer
Read More Show Less

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Queen to Play
1. "How Do You Say Chess in French?" [10:24]
2. Dr. Kröger [5:44]
3. The Most Powerful Piece [12:40]
4. Check [6:59]
5. Rules and Exceptions [9:22]
6. Something of My Own [9:06]
7. No More [5:26]
8. A Little Tournament [4:29]
9. His Cleaning Lady? [9:55]
10. Checkmate [6:56]
11. "Queen Captures F6" [10:29]
12. End Credits [5:56]
Read More Show Less

Menu

Disc #1 -- Queen to Play
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Audio & Subtitles
      2.0 Soundtrack
      5.1 Soundtrack
      English Subtitles: On
      English Subtitles: Off
   Extras
      Le Making of Jouseuse
      U.S. Theatrical Trailer
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously