Review: ‘Queen of Katwe,’ the Queen of Chess
Words by: Kaiyah Clarke
“Oscar- winning” is what is described of the premiere of the Disney film Queen of Katwe, by movie critics worldwide. This exceptionally diverse film follows the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a chess champion who not only won one of the highest awards in women’s’ chess for Uganda, but was also able to compete internationally at the mere age of fourteen.
With the help of coach Robert Katende, played by actor David Oyelowo, of the local sports outreach program, she was able to learn how to read, move her and her family out of the slums of Katwe and most importantly make her dreams come true as a professional chess player.
There were many that attended the viewing for the learning opportunity in African Studies as well as the promotion of African Culture. The empathy students had of the hardships Phiona had to endure was greatly noted.
When asked what she thought, Kaitlyn Terrell, a second-year theatre major from Chicago, IL said,
“I really liked the movie because it had a great storyline and they rarely make movies about young black women reaching their goals. It was awesome to see Disney supporting this movie. It truly showed their diversity in production as well. The whole thing was perfect from beginning to end and definitely deserves a 5 out of 5.”
Miya Webb, a second-year business administration student from Orlando, FL, felt similarly.
“I wouldn’t have changed anything that’s how good it was. I would actually like to see more of her [Phiona’s] accomplishments and where she is now in life,” she said.
The acting was superb with newcomer Madina Nalwanga as Phiona and Oscar-nominated Lupita Nuyong’o as Phiona’s mother.
A.O. Scoot of NYTimes agreed, “Ms. Nalwanga’s watchful, quiet presence conveys both shyness and determination, a habit of humility in tension with an almost superhuman intelligence.”
Nalwanga brings the vivacious drive of curiosity- whether it was exploring her new place in acting or in character, learning how to read and play chess.
Oyelowo favored the persistence in a teacher wanting better for their student. This extends to his students’ well-being as slum-raised children.
Nuyong’o brought the tough love of a struggling widow and mother of four. The underlying motivation for her is wanting the best for her children.
In the overall emotional sense, there will be crying, laughing and as an audience member,will most likely be left in a stupor with the fact that people really live life like this. Once again, you have a stupendous cast in a diverse production supported by African-American students- needless to say, there will be no regret in paying to watch Queen of Katwe.