Rumi Reviews: Queen Of Katwe

Estimated Reading Time:

Rumi Rating: 4/5

It's disconcerting when you’re watching a movie and a world that looks like home turns out to be foreign and unknown. Watching this movie` felt a little like walking into a house you thought was home to find a woman you thought was your mom turn around, only to find out she isn’t your mother and you aren’t at home. #mindfuck

 I realized why the opening shots from the movie felt like home: it dawned on me that all third world countries look the same. The same desperate hopelessness in the eyes of its people, the same decay and rubble of long gone regimes and tantrums by political leaders, the same fight to simply survive another day, the resignation to wake up and fight the same fight day after day after day. 
(As upsetting and controversial as that statement seems, think about it and you will realise I speak the truth.) The only thing that is different is the color of their skin and the language.  In this case, the people are dark chocolate instead of milk or white, it's Katwe and the language is Luganda.

Queen of Katwe isn’t a movie I would normally watch. I leave these kind of movies to my sister, or one of my best friends. You know, the kind of movies where is everyone is crying or dying or about to cry or about to die. I tend to stay away from such movies, i'm sure you can understand why. 
Two things drew me to this movie - 1 is the fact that Mira Nair directed it, she can do no wrong in my eyes – hello Monsoon Wedding, and 2 -  don’t laugh, the movie poster.

I’m glad I watched it. Really glad.  This movie is exactly the kind of movie that I love, a true tale of overcoming hardship and hurdles, of hard work and hope, of strife and success,  of life and a little bit of luck.

My sister watched the movie after I raved about it... and called her every night until she did. She said she liked it but clearly not as much as I did. Her point of contention was that Mira Nair tends to drive home the point she is trying to make too hard, that she isn’t very subtle about it.

I see what she is saying, where she is coming from;  but I also don’t. Yes, i'm partial to Nair, but I don’t think I am biased by it. I don’t think this movie is something that needed to be subtle to make the point, there were enough bold themes and ideas for the director to make her point obviously. There is nothing subtle about poverty or child labour, or closed minds fearful of change and progress. Lupita N'oyongo did a wonderful job portraying a wary mother, torn between wanting better for her children and scared of even allowing them to dream of a better life.

I loved the crisp accented English that was spoken throughout the film. I loved the way Nair was able to inject laughter and humour into a movie based in the slums of a poor country. I loved the way the children brought their roles to life, I loved the coach yes, but I loved his wife more. For allowing her husband to follow his calling and not harp about lost money or opportunity. That woman has the biggest heart in the world and believe me, I took note.

If there was one thing I had a gripe with, it is how the end was anti- climatic. I didn’t realize the importance of that last game or the win until the movie was over, and in doing so, I felt a little cheated of the success. I would have liked the tension to have been built a little more, show what was at risk more; basically make it more theatrical and dramatic.

Can we talk about what I really really loved? The soundtrack. It was perfect. Each scene had the perfect background score, the music was perfect in the movie and when I listened to it again, it was still perfect. #keywordisperfect

Queen of Katwe is the perfect movie to watch if you need a pick me up, or a little hope, if you are feeling pessimistic, or are indulging in a bout of self pity. Once you watch a young girl from the slums living in the worst kind of poverty, fighting her own self doubt and her mothers suspicions, learning to read as she learns to play chess, once you watch her overcome her struggles, yours won't seem so bad.

Here's the trailer: