Just after watching a fun and light comedy with Sing, another channel started to show Queen of Katwe. I heard good comments when it was in theaters, so I decided to keep up the marathon.
It tells the story of Phiona Mutesi, a real life girl from the village of Katwe, in Uganda, that end up being a very good chess player. It is a very typical against-all-odds and follow-your-dream kinda story. The poor girl has to face all the prejudice for being women and poor (but not about being black, because the whole movie is basically on Uganda, which such thing is nonsense) to get a place under the sun.
Her unexpected success transformed the lives of her family and of the many people of her village. She became a celebrity at very young age, which influenced her personality. Year after year, she started to behave as a spoiled kid, believing that she was invincible. With the family support, she realizes the most valuable things in life in the end.
The acting of the protagonist, from Madina Nalwanga, is excellent. The entire media focused the attention to the beautiful Lupita Nyong’o that plays Phiona’s mother, but the real star here is Madina. Phiona is portrayed as a timid, introspective girl, but Madina played in a way that it still makes the character very, very likable. You cheer for her. Even being in a chess match!
The other kids are also surprisingly good. It is always a challenge to work with children.
My main complaint with the story is the sub-plot of her older sister. I don’t know if the book that was based on uses this character to a greater purpose, but in this motion picture this subplot, while gives hints about the whole situation of Phiona and her mother, does not go anywhere relevant.
The visuals are great. The poverty is displayed in a way that brings emotions but is not there to provoke shock. The African colors and styles gives it a very distinctive and beautiful look.