Queen to Play (2009) Script


Hello, Helene. Hello.

Don't forget to do rooms 12 and 19.

Have you seen Natalia? No.

I don't know what I'd do without you, Helene.

I'm sick of that cow yelling at me!

I'm getting out of here.

Where will you go? The mainland, anywhere.

What about Denis? The love of your life?

He can come with me.

I'm not rotting away here!

The summer is okay... but the winter is a living hell!

Didn't you ever want to leave?

I never thought about it.

Never wanted to move somewhere else?

Yes, years ago.

To move here and get married.


Excuse me.

You can do the room now.

We'll be out here all morning.

Yes, madam.

Do you play...

What's "chess" in French?

Chess? Yes.

Do you play chess?



What's wrong?

An accident?

No. I just wanted to see you.

That's nice but you had me worried.

Shit, sorry.

Sure you're okay?

Yes, I'm fine.

I have to go, we have to finish today.

I'm behind.


See you later.

When we were your age we had summer jobs.

To earn some money.

My English teacher recommended this course.

So what? Your mom and I work like slaves.

I don't want to be like you!

Like what? Poor!

Is it shameful? It's nothing to be proud of!

Has she ever gone without? No!

Calm down. You know she doesn't mean it.

Two building contracts were canceled.

Thierry may cut workers.

The people who earn money aren't spending it anymore.

How will we manage?

We'll see.

Did you ask your Yankee for a raise?

How much is this trip to England? 400 euros.

Shit. We'll have to tighten our belts.

I'm meeting Jacky, we have a game to finish.

Don't wait up for me.

And he doesn't do anything.

Nothing seems to interest him.

If you ask him what he wants to do... you know what he answers?

"I want to be famous!"

Doctor Kroger?

That man's impossible!

Does he give you a hard time too?

He's all right.

Lucky all my patients aren't like him!

Have a nice day.


Hello, Doctor Kroger.

Please... try not to move everything.

I can't find anything after you've been here.

I'm sorry. All right.

Do my room first.

I wanted to ask...

It's about my...

About your? Salary. My husband thinks...

Does he think for you?

No, I think so too...

You could give me a raise. 10 euros.

Thank you.

See you soon.

One, two, three!


Happy birthday!

Cut the cake! Right. Candles!

Here. Happy birthday.

Birthday presents!

An electronic chess set.

So I see. What's it for?

Playing chess, I'd say!

But I can't play. You can learn.

They say it improves the mind!

Very funny. Can you play?



It's a change from backgammon.

Who am I supposed to play with?

I don't know. With me?

Or on your own.

It's a game you can play on your own.

On my own?

Tiny computer big brain!

Come on, let's have some cake.

Pass your plates.

Why did you do it?

Thanks, Helene.

I hope it didn't cost too much? No.


And champagne glasses! Right!

Where's the cork? The cork for luck!

It went well, huh? Very well.

Getting up in the morning will be tough.

Good night, love.

The knight...

The rook...

The pawn...

The king...

"One element that makes chess so rich... is the different movements of all the pieces.

The queen is the most powerful piece."

The queen is the most powerful piece...

Got everything?

I'm not going to Mars!

Here. Take it. You never know.

Thanks. Are you sure? Yes.

Lisa! You'll miss your boat!


Be careful. I'm not a child!

That's what worries me!

Come for a drink? Not today.

You never come over now.

I don't have time. Bye.

It's you!

Yes, it's me. Are you okay?


What were you doing? Nothing.

Smoking again?

A bit.

Call that a bit?

It helps me.

Helps you do what? Think.

Think about what?

I haven't cooked. I thought we could go out for once.

On me.

I'm meeting Jacky, let's heat up a pizza.

I want to go out. Please.

All right, get changed. But it's on me.

We haven't been to Maddy's for ages.

So I kept my head down and... went back to work without a word.

It's every man for himself now.

When three people are fired we're angry, but we're glad it's them... and not us.

Maybe Lisa's right.

We've turned into sheep.

But do we have a choice?

In my dad's day they all stuck together.

The guys met up every Sunday.

Mom made doughnuts.

They drank, sang and changed the world!

It was fun.

If times got hard we resisted.

What were you saying?


We haven't talked like that for ages.

Do you know what I'd like? Yes!

No, I'd like to...

Is that what you want? Yes.


What's the object of the game?

The object of the game?

You have to capture your opponent's king.

And checkmate him.


And what?

Is that all? Yes.

So all the pieces move differently?

Except the pawns, they move the same way.

This is the bishop, we each have two.

They move diagonally, like this.

This is the rook.

The rook goes straight ahead... or sideways if there's a place.

The queen.

The most important piece.

She can do anything, go anywhere she likes.

She's stronger than the king. Crazy, right?

There. Got it?

Sure. You think I'm an idiot?

Okay, I'll begin. White always starts.

Your turn.

No, the knight does this.

The bishop moves sideways. You never said that!

Yes, I did!

It doesn't make sense! I've had enough.

Let's go to bed.

One last game.

I didn't wake you?

I'm sorry.

Snooping through my things? What?

No, I...

Put it back where you found it.

And stop saying sorry all the time.

It's a sign of weakness.

Do you play?

Do I play chess?

I do. You?

I have an electronic set at home.

I learn at night.

And sleep in the day.

Will you play with me?

I beg your pardon?

I'm not advancing on my own.

Why chess?

Why me?

I don't know who else to ask.

Try playing Patience.



What's your name? Helene.

Helene, right.

I don't like being bothered.

I can do the cleaning for free, if you like.

You're appealing to my better nature.

Tuesday, 4:00 p.m.

But let's make this clear:

We'll try it once.

Only once.


What are you doing?

I'm coming!

Come and see.

Come and see.

Know why room 11 is off limits? No.

She had a wild affair in that room three years ago.

With an Italian guest.

He promised to come back.

She goes in there every day. Pilgrimage!

Do you believe it?

She gets a monthly letter from Rome.

Denis told me.

Natalia, take the sheets... to the laundry, it's your turn today.

Four rooms must be ready by midday.

Can I count on you?

"Yes, Madam, very good, Madam!"

Don't exaggerate.

She's not bad at heart.

Sure! You always say yes.

We have one hour.

Do you intend to spend it standing up?

White opens. Your move.



Well what?

Will you teach me?

Why does this game mean so much to you?

I don't know.

We'll start again.

See you Tuesday.

And smile occasionally.

It suits you better than looking serious.

All right.

"Developing the queen early on is not advisable.

It helps... the enemy pieces to develop... and they can quicken the pace by attacking her.

It's vital... not to waste time right from the start... so your development is not delayed."

Do you look at everyone like that?

Like what?

As if your life depends on what they're going to say.

Rules are less important than exceptions in chess.

Breaking rules at a timely moment: that's what you have to do. Do you understand?

Not really, no.

Neither do I.

Shall we continue?

Helene! Have you seen the time?

We won't go into that today.

Imagine, our Natalia... has been short-listed for her competition!

Really? Well done!

Well, I haven't won yet.

We're 200, they only pick 10.

If I get in I do a ritzy training course on the mainland... and I'll kiss... all this good-bye!

She's going to Marseille for 2 days for the oral... and I have no one to replace her.

Can you work 2 afternoons next week?

When? Tuesday and Wednesday.



I can't do Tuesday.

I'm sorr...

I'm not free.

It's me.


Shall I start with...


You want to do the cleaning? It's done.

But you pay me to do it. No.

I pay you to do what I tell you. Come on.

Fifteen minutes.

And today...

I open.

E4, c5.


You look lovely.

Where were you? We were worried!

I was at Kroger's. I missed my bus.

His place must be clean!

Forgotten your daughter?

Don't fight the day I get back!

You're right.

We're going home.

Try and find time to come over. We have to talk.

Okay. See you later.


We went to London for the day.

And we ran out of the museum, just the two of us.

It was awesome.

And he raped me three times.



I tell you I've fallen in love for real... you don't even listen!

I do! It's Antoine, isn't it?

You slept with him?

You say I've changed, but you've changed.

I'm not hungry.

Let's go!

The ends, as usual?

No, I'd like some little strands.

You know? All over.

But they won't be the same length.

I don't want them the same length.

They won't stay in a chignon.

I know.

You can tell me, you know.

Tell you what?

You and Doctor Kroger.

Look straight!

Everyone's talking. About what?

You don't go over there just to clean.

Be careful, Helene.

He's a strange man.

When his wife died there were rumors...

Nothing was ever proved.

But he didn't want to see anyone afterwards.

Don't you remember?



Checkmate, you're right.

Well done. Thank you.

It's late.

You should be home by now.

Yes. Anyway, I missed the last bus.

Shall we have a drink?

Won't your husband say anything?


What's he like?


He's... handsome.

Handsome? Yes. Really handsome.

So many books.

Too many.

Have you read them all?

Most of them.

Do you like reading?

I don't know, I never read.

"Martin Eden."

Take it.

You'll like it.

All right?

I have to go to the bathroom.

Well... go on.

Your wife was beautiful.


Did you play chess with her too?


It's not true what they say?

That you helped her die?

Did they tell you that?

And you believed it?


You've changed your hair.

I have to go now.

See you Tuesday? Yes.

You all right?

What did you eat?

Pasta. It's all we could find.

Enjoy yourself? What?

You sail in, it's nearly midnight.

Happy and pretty, did you enjoy yourself?

Have you been drinking?

No. Yes. I couldn't get drunk.

I'll make some coffee.

They all say you're two-timing me.

It's tough but I don't care.

You know it's not true.

What I saw today is worse.

What did you see?

You and Kroger.

You followed me?

He pays you, at least?

What do you mean?

I'm trying to understand.

Don't bother!

So you had pasta for supper?

It didn't kill you!

Can't I have something of my own for once?

It's not a crime!

Come in.

You wanted to see me?

Sit down.

What's been going on?

Two weeks ago... the Belgian couple complained... that you hadn't changed the towels for two days.

Yesterday... the guest in room 9 sent for me to see how badly his bed was made.

Then this morning room 12 said you were rude... when he asked you for mineral water.

What's wrong?

I'm a maid, not a waitress.

You're what I pay you to be.

If the job isn't good enough for you... lots of people out there would snap it up.

I run this place alone.

I can't accept sloppiness.

All right.


What's wrong... Leave me alone.

Tell me about it.

It's Antoine, isn't it?

Has he hurt you?

He wants us to break up.


He's with someone else.

Didn't he tell you?

Yes. But he thought it was over.

Then when he got back he saw her again.

Oh, my darling.

I can see his point.

Why should he be with a working class girl?

What do you mean?

Antoine is middle class!

His girlfriend is middle class.

You know something?

I'm glad it's over.

I couldn't have brought him here. It's too tacky!

Stop it.

I never told him you're a cleaner.

I don't want to end up like you!

Lisa, go to bed.

You both disgust me!

You're right. I ruin everything.



No, I'm not sick.

I'm not coming over anymore.

I've decided... I'm not playing chess anymore.

Because it's impossible. It's too complicated.

I'm not coming over anymore.

Not even for the cleaning.


Hello, Jacky.


"The real world was that of his mind... and the stories he wrote the only possible reality."

I found this in your room.

Have you read it?

It made me cry.

Beautiful. The sailor who became a writer.

You mean the writer who should have stayed a sailor.

Why do you say that?

Because he's unhappy.

Because he realizes it wasn't worth the effort.

And he doesn't belong anywhere.

Yes, but he did it.

If he's an outsider, it's because he's better than those he tried to impress.

Why be better if you don't do anything with it?

It must have been hard when you moved here.

Yes, a bit.

I'd left everything, no friends.

I spent my time waiting for your father.

No more chess?

That's silly! Why not?

It's not a women's game.

That annoys me.

Like men are smarter than us!

The most powerful piece is the queen, right?

How do you know?

I just know.

Show me how you danced with your friend Ouidad.

Come on, Mom!

If you've come here to clean... take your flowers and go.

I've found someone else.

Shall we start?

What do you mean?

Let's play.

I'll be white?

I bet you've been practicing on your own.

Come on!

I can't wait forever!

Is this what you came back for?

Of course. What else?

Shall we play blitz?

Want to know something?


I didn't miss you but I'm glad you're here.

I didn't miss you either.

Hey! What's going on?

I thought I'd cook the chicken. Disaster!

Can I help? No, let me. I'll do it.

I have to talk to you.

I have to talk to you too.

Oh yes? What about?

I've been thinking. You're right. This can't go on.


I want to see you happy.

It was my present, right?

You can't throw it away.

Lisa will be back soon.

Checkmate in 2 moves.

Five times running.

I give up.

It's just luck, that's all.

Luck has nothing to do with it, as we both know.

You know...

I think the time has come.

The time for what?

You have to spread your wings.

I've been thinking about it for a while.

A tournament.


A little tournament.

Not the world championship. Not yet.

You're tired of me?

I didn't say that.

But I like playing with you.

How can you say that?

You've never played with anyone else.

Admit you're scared, you feel safe here.

That's not true!

Anyway, I'm not ready.

Of course you're ready.

And the next tournament is in 2 months... it gives us some time.

Don't imagine you can get rid of me like that!

You could have told me. We made it clear.

Play here or at Kroger's but don't look like a fool in public!

Why would she?

Know what people call you? "The chess case".

I don't care.

You don't care if I look like a fool?

You should be proud of her... instead of making our lives hell!

You know something? I admire Mom.

Not many people could do it.

She has to start training.

Sleep a lot, eat well. So she'll be in top form.

It's not a sport.

Yes, it is!

And first prize is 1500 euros.

Since you're both ganging up on me!

It's a shame I can only take one at a time.

Very funny.

Why are you doing that?

See your plan through.

But it's lousy.

Better to play a lousy plan logically... than no plan at all.

It's too tough.

It's work.

No, it's not.

Work is when I do cleaning.

Here I understand less and less.

That's part of it. Of what?

The work.

What do you know?

You lock yourself up with your books.

Is that work?

It's a luxury.

It saves me from rubbing shoulders with idiots.

It's easy to despise everyone.

Not everyone.

I liked it better before.

Before what?

When I didn't question anything.

How very inspiring!

There you are. You all right? Fine.

"Natalia, you've forgotten the towels.

You have to knock some sense into your head!"

I better stop laughing at her, I'm not going anywhere.

I flunked the oral. I totally messed up.

I was scared stiff.

You can try for it again.

I could but...

I was dreaming too big.

Denis wants us to get married now and have kids. Four!

That's what matters. A husband you love, a family, a quiet life.

Right? Yes.

We better go! I still have rooms 12 and 9 to do.

Yes, me too.

Come in.

Just a minute. I'll see to that.

We'll settle it next week, okay?


It's about the tournament.

I want to enter.

Do you belong to a club? No.

Have you played for long?

No, not very.

Are you rated?


Although it's an amateur tournament the standards are very high.

Doctor Kroger sent me, he's written to you.


A friend of yours?


Please sit down.

You're his cleaning lady?

Yes, why?

No reason.

Is that all he says? Pretty much.

Should he have said anything else?

He's always done what he likes with people.

Would you have time to work for me?

My wife needs someone.

Two afternoons a week, if it's possible?

I'll have to see.

Is something wrong today?

No, everything's fine.

It doesn't look like it.

Aren't you playing?


I do the cleaning.

After all, I am your cleaning lady.

As you said in your letter.

So that's it?

You played with me like a puppet.

I may not be educated, but I have my pride.

I'm not your plaything.

You're right. You're not my plaything.

I'm sorry.

I should never have written that.

But it's the truth too: you are my cleaning lady.

What are you doing?

I'm leaving. I want my money.

I hate you.


I want to show you something.

You see those pictures?

My wife painted them.

She was talented, wasn't she?

Extremely talented.

But she never believed in herself.

When she died I thought...

I should have encouraged her more.

I thought I could have saved her.

But that's just vanity again.

No one can save anyone else.

Her doubt was stronger than her painting.

Do you understand?

You hurt me.


You are really talented, Helene.

You have... that thing that can't be taught... at school or in books... money can't buy it... many people search for it without ever finding it.

Myself included.

Will you come to the tournament?

Go away.

Are you all right?



Black hit the game clock.

Good luck everybody!


Move your rook... from c8 to c4...

He'll have to trade the pawn.

Not that it helps him... as you'll take it with the rook.



Has she won? Did she win?

She's won!

Dad! Dad!

What is it? Has she lost?

She won four games, she's in the final.

What's next?

It hasn't started yet. Coming?

No. If she sees me it'll throw her. You go.

Keep me posted. Sure.

5:00. Time to start. Good luck everybody!

What's going on?

He's late. It's a tactic to destabilize her.

That's awful!

You ask too many questions.

It's only a game.

So play.

Be yourself and enjoy it.

One bad move... can wipe out 40 good previous moves.

So force him to slip up.

And remember:

"The threat is always stronger... than the execution. "

She's won!

Sorry, I'm late agai n.

It doesn't matter, Natalia.

Here's our champion.

Congratulations! Thank you.

Let's stand in front of the hotel.

I'm sorry, I only want the winner.

Oh, all right.

The winner of what?

Hold it.


You're a star now.

Not bad.

I thought you'd come.

I was waiting for you.

But you won, didn't you?

You see... you didn't need me.

The next tournament is in Paris. I'm going.

It's always been your dream?


It will be different. There'll be top players.

We'll see.

"When you take a risk you may lose... when you don't take a risk you always lose."


So I have managed to teach you something.

When I get back... we'll start again?

You know I hate losing.

Then play better!




E captures f4...

Knight f3...

Bishop e7...

Knight c3...

Bishop h4... Check.

King e2...


Knight captures d5...

Knight f6...

Knight captures f6.



captures f6...


Bishop j4...

Qeen d2...

Knight c6...


Castling queen's side.