Posted Oct 21 2016
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Queen Of Katwe - This Movie Alt Rocks

Dir: Mira Nair

Starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o, Madina Nalwanga

A film that asks the question is Hollywood finally starting to take on new stories? Or it merely relocating old stories in new locations?

Queen Of Katwe is an inspiring true story, of a young uneducated girl from the streets of a slum in Uganda, who found an affinity for chess and rose to become a champion. In the hands of director Mira Nair, it is played as a conventional underdog sports movie, one with an outcome as certain and pre-determined as Rocky 4. Not to say that it isn’t a vibrant, entertaining and well acted trip along the way.

Of particularly impressive note is newcomer and local girl Madina Nalwanga, who plays young Phiona, who discovers both the game and the best of herself in coach Oyelowo’s chess club. Her performance is unselfconscious, open and endearing – it could even verge on heart-breaking, but we know from the off that this is not that sort of movie. Oyelowo makes for a fine inspiring surrogate father figure, and Nyoung’o is a splendidly prickly mother, urging her offspring to face up to the reality of their world rather than the realisation of their dreams.

So Phiona trains (gets a training montage), she succeeds, she falls shortly before the end, and then – there’s the big one – and does she win?

Well, we know from the off, it’s an underdog sports movie. You get the highs, the lows, the tropes. The music is different and the backgrounds have changed. But the story is pretty much the same as it ever was. And it’s pleasantly well told here.

 

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