Tobey Maguire has yet to be nominated for an Oscar, but if the trailer for Pawn Sacrifice is any indication, he’s gunning for that honor this awards season. The actor, whose best-known roles often encompass an air of innocence and wonder, takes on the complicated life of Bobby Fischer, famous World Chess Champion and troubled public figure, under the direction of Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond).
It should be an interesting career pivot for the director—Fischer’s public image is loaded with political connotations, and it looks like Zwick is focusing heavily on the worldwide hoopla that surrounded his historic 1972 match against then-World Chess Champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) of the USSR. The Cold War symbolism is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The Pawn Sacrifice trailer also doesn’t shy away from Fischer’s well-documented struggles with mental illness or his controversial anti-American and anti-Semitic statements. “They’re all out to get me—the Russians, and the Jews!” Bobby says at one point, echoing some of Fischer’s real-life rants.
Pawn Sacrifice premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, and the reviews have thus far been generally positive—a good sign if you find yourself to be as consistently bored by the biopic genre and its well-worn tropes as I’ve been as of late. In Variety, Justin Chang wrote, “The moves are none too surprising but the psychological back-and-forth still compels attention,” which is what I imagine many people, suddenly persuaded to take an interest in chess, probably thought to themselves during that original high-stakes Fischer-Spassky match. The rest of us can be seduced by Pawn Sacrifice’s charms come September.