Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, 25, is the current chess world champion, but if there were a tournament for the best chess movie of all time, this one would get knocked out well before the quarter finals.
Why a documentary about Carlsen is hitting our screens at all rather than one about, say, his rival Viswanathan Anand, may have something to do with Magnus’ stolid Scandinavian good looks, chiselled if somewhat bovine features that have made him a bit of a celebrity beyond the chess world.
But even though director Benjamin Ree has accessed the family archive of footage showing young Magnus as a socially awkward prodigy through the years and interviewed him directly many times, the film barely dents his inviolate wall of polite reticence.
Worse still, there’s scant input from chess experts to explain why he’s so good, what’s unique about his gamesmanship and the like, and the film has nothing interesting to say about chess in general in the modern age. Come back, Bobby Fischer, all is forgiven.