Dangerous Moves Movie Review
Never before seen in the US, this Swiss production concerns a championship chess match between Soviet master Liebskind (Michel Piccoli) and his former student, a defector named Fromm (Alexandre Arbatt). The underlying political intrigue -- which we expect -- is quite understated as the film focuses on the mind games between the two players. Sure, there's a political agenda, but the insight into how these players try to outfox each other between matches is priceless. They plan strategies, only to watch them come undone during the actual game. When we learn that Liebskind is dying, the game becomes a metaphor for not just east vs. west, but life vs. life.
Piccoli and Arbatt, actors whom I've never seen before, are outstandingly well-cast. I'm equally unfamiliar with the small body of work of Richard Dembo, but if a guy can make a chess game exciting, he earns a gold star in my book. Veteran producer Arthur Cohn also has a hand in film, and on the new DVD release of the film he offers by way of interview some of his insights into the filmmaking process. A handy guide to chess notation will help your enjoyment of the film if you aren't a player.
Aka Le Diagonale du fou.