The name “Bobby Fischer” is synonymous with high-level chess, even decades after the Brooklyn-born grandmaster won his World Chess Championship match against the reigning champion from the Soviet Union, Boris Spasskey. Staged during the height of the Cold War, the match was seen by both sides as an opportunity to prove intellectual superiority. Pawn Sacrifice dramatizes this iconic battle-of-wits, but also delves into the psychological effects of obsession, dedication, and the heavy burden of worldwide expectation– even on the strongest of minds.
Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight opens with a quick vignette at a Boston police station. Using subtle camera movements and specific acting choices, the subject of the scene becomes clear: a young boy has been molested by a local priest. A green policeman doesn’t seem to understand the protocols, but he watches as the strings get pulled and the wheels get greased, and the offending priest gets whisked away from the police station without consequence. This serves as a preamble to the harrowing story we are about to witness: the rampant sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, and its systemic cover-up by the Church.