Reports | April 01, 2011 23:00

Queen to Play in US cinemas

Queen to PlayIn January 2010 we already mentioned the film Queen to Play, in which a housemaid sees two people playing chess, and then falls in love with the royal game. Starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline, the film opens today in US cinemas.

The official title of the French/German film is Joueuse. It was directed and written by Caroline Bottaro, together with Caroline Maly and Jeanne Le Guillou. It's based on Bertina Henrichs' 2005 novel The Chess Player. It's distributed by StudioCanal in France and Concorde Filmverleih in Germany, and opened in German cinemas in January last year.

The Palm Springs Film Festival described the movie as follows:

Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline (in his first French-speaking role) shine in this sophisticated feel-good comedy set in idyllic Corsica. Middle-aged chambermaid Hélène's newfound obsession with the game of chess leads her to seek the tutelage of a reclusive American expat, transforming both of their ho-hum lives in the process.

Trailer: Queen to Play


Today Queen to Play opens in cinemas in the USA, and distributor Zeitgeist Films asked us to spread the word. Their 'eblast' describes it as follows:

Oscar winner Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, The Ice Storm) and the luminous Sandrine Bonnaire (Vagabond, La Ceremonie) square off in this stylish and sophisticated dramedy of newfound passions and mid-life triumphs, set on the postcard-perfect isle of Corsica. Lovely, repressed and quietly intelligent, French chambermaid Helene (Bonnaire) discovers she has a knack for chess. This obsession—much to the chagrin of her husband and teenaged daughter—leads her to seek the clandestine tutelage of a reclusive American doctor (Kline, in his first French-speaking role)—a liaison that radically transforms both of their lackluster lives. Based on Bertina Henrichs' acclaimed novel La Joueuse d'echec (The Chess Player), Queen to Play is the feature film debut of French director and screenwriter Caroline Bottaro.

Zeitgeist trailer

Kevin Kline about the movie

Below our January 8, 2010 report we already have a few comments from people who have seen the move. Again, if you've seen it, don't hesitate to share your opinion in the comments below.



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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Solomon's picture

I haven't seen the movie but I liked the trailer. Certainly shows how different the Europeans view chess compared to the Americans! I can't see that it would be a hit in US. However, I am looking forward to seeing it.

Thanks for posting the article.

Rob Brown's picture

Definitely a box office flop, a real dud, in the good ol' USA. It lacks pornographic violence, nobody shoots anybody, none of the female stars have huge silicone hooters and Botox lips, and I didn't see one instance of product placement.

Johnny's picture

Well done, Chessvibes!! I appreciate the effort you put into making your April Fools Jokes convincing, unlike that other chess news website whose name shall go unmentioned.

Anyway hats off and nice hoax, guys! ;)

Barack Obama's picture

Yeah It cant be, I banned this movie because it violates our US laws in various aspects...

supergrobi's picture

One of the best movies - if not the best one - I've seen so far concerning chess.
I saw the German version of it. It's a movie from a woman about a woman based on a novel written by a woman. It's a very calm one which might be not everyone's taste. Chess is used to show how a woman breaks free and gets more independent, but it's done very accurately concerning chess. I guess we have all seen so many movies where a chess champion makes a move with the right hand and hits the clock with the other one and stuff like that. This is not the case here which makes it a lot easier to watch (at least for me). I wonder why it took so long that I see more about it on a chess site. I fully recommend this movie - an it's definitely no April Fools Joke...

known1's picture

i don't know if this is april fools, but the only thing I know is that it was released in 2009! so i really dont know why would they wait like 2 years to make it come to us... anyway...

known1's picture

i don't know if this is april fools, but the only thing I know is that it was released in 2009! so i really dont know why would they wait like 2 years to make it come to us... anyway...

come to USA i mean...

help's picture

Probably because it is a very European style movie. And about chess.

seffa's picture

This is not a joke. Attached is a movie review from the New York Times. Hopefully, it will come to your town too.

help's picture

My comments are not appearing.

help's picture

Am I for some unfathomable reason being blocked by ChessVibes. Posts with my regular username do not appear.

help's picture

The above one says "Your comment is awaiting moderation" but at least it appeared.

help's picture


Rob Brown's picture

Who's laughing? Replace the battery on your computer. If things are still screwed, check your post for expletives. If your posts are still not appearing, it means that ChessVibes has installed a relevance filter and your comments have failed to make the grade. My sympathies, Dude.

help's picture

The "this is not a joke" was meant for the ChessVibes staff, it was April fools day after all. And no, there were no expletives or anything offensive in the comments, it must be a problem with the website software or server, I have no better explanation.

Anthony's picture

oh no.........

The Royal Game used for female empowerment.......................

The results in the real world show otherwise, but the idea is depressing nonetheless............

I'll go see the film, I like Kevin Kline, but I'll be eagerly awaiting a film about how chess is captivating men so badly, they scorn all the females showing off their booty..........

Welcome to the real world!

RuralRob's picture

I'll wait for the Michael Bay remake, where all the chess pieces turn into fighting robots, then explode.

Rob Brown's picture

Exploding pieces! A new chess variant. Beauty, Rural Rob. I follow your droll comments on too. Keep up the good work.

Creemer's picture

There is actually a chess variant that involves pieces blowing up when capturing another piece. All adjourning pieces are removed from the board too. The games are usually rather short-lived. And it's quite funny to play.

Rob Brown's picture

I love the concept. As soon as it makes the Canadian circuit, I'm loading the entire family into the minivan and zooming off to the nearest movieplex where we will load up on mega buckets of butter soaked popcorn and Coke slurpies then make our way to the front row so we revel in the subtleties of the multi stranded plot line.

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