Searching for Bobby Fisher

Nashville Scene

DIRECTED BY: Steven Zaillian

REVIEWED: 10-05-98

As entertaining and moving as Good Will Hunting can be, it offers little real insight into the trials of a prodigy. Far more effective is this fact-based Stephen Zaillan film, about an otherwise normal preteen boy who has a native ability to look at a chessboard and see combinations and strategies with the facility of a grandmaster. The joy of the film comes from watching young Josh Waitskin reduce a complicated game to the level of "let's pretend." The drama comes from watching Josh's father (Joe Mantegna in his finest screen performance) come to grips with his child's strange gift, and hearing the two of them hash out whether talent should develop unfettered or if it should be converted to discipline. The film doesn't resolve the issue, but by letting tutors Laurence Fishburne and Ben Kingsley represent the two sides of the argument, Zaillan assures that the debate is lively and captivating.

--Noel Murray

Other Films by Steven Zaillian
A Civil Action

Film Vault Suggested Links
Mrs. Dalloway
Music of the Heart

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