Movie Details

A middle-aged maid with few prospects before her finds a new lease on life via the game of chess, in this unusual tale that marked the first directorial go-round of acclaimed scriptwriter Caroline Bottaro (Les Aveux de l'innocent). French screen siren Sandrine Bonnaire (À Nos Amours) stars as Hélène, a Frenchwoman employed as a housekeeper in a posh Corsican hotel. Though devoted and diligent as a wife and mother, she lacks any real passion in her life. That changes in a single, defining instant when Helene espies a mysterious couple (the female played by Jennifer Beals) exchanging erotic glances and seductive gestures over a chessboard, on a nearby balcony. Feeling sexual arousal, Hélène misguidedly tries to parlay this into her own personal life by giving her boatworker husband an electronic chessboard, but the connection between this and a need for greater intimacy eludes him. Hélène's curiosity about chess nonetheless endures, and when she fails to teach herself to play sans assistance, she turns to an eccentric, reclusive American whose house she cleans, Dr. Kroger (Kevin Kline) and asks him to mentor her in the game. In time, her expertise outstrips Kroger's and she begins to live and breathe chess, but this very passion also threatens to alienate the woman's family, who perceive a form of infidelity in this new obsession. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi