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By Phil Hall | April 8, 2011

The French import “Queen to Play” involves a chambermaid at a resort in Corsica who finds a chic couple playing chess on their suite’s terrace. Inexplicably, the chambermaid becomes obsessed with the game and begins taking chess lessons from a reclusive American doctor who conveniently lives in town. Much to the surprise of the chambermaid’s indifferent husband and bratty teenage daughter, our fair lady excels at the game.

The main problem with “Queen to Play” is that there is not a single original idea in any frame of the film. The screenplay feels like chunks of “Educating Rita” mashed it into “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” with traces of “The Karate Kid” spicing the mix (albeit with chess moves instead of karate chops). Within the first 15 minutes of the film, the viewer knows exactly where the plot is going – and, not surprisingly, it is a monotonous trip.

The luminous Sandrine Bonnaire is, as always, a joy to view, even though casting her as a chess-loving chambermaid stretches credibility to the fraying point. Kevin Kline, who obviously cannot find quality roles in the U.S., mumbles in French as the doctor/chess tutor. Jennifer Beals is briefly on screen as one of the hotel guests who inspires the chess mania – she looks great, even though she has little to do but look great.

The only positive aspect connected to “Queen to Play” is the confirmation that the French can make mediocre chick flicks just as badly as Americans.

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