QUEEN OF KATWE Movie Review #QueenofKatweevent


I don’t even know where to begin with this movie… I cant. I just…am unable to can. Listen, the movie is out now in limited release so go catch it! If it’s not in your area then be sure to go see it on Friday September 30th when it starts playing everywhere.

The official description is:

“Queen of Katwe” is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.

And if you missed it before in my premiere post, here’s the trailer:

Now…here’s my take: 

Ok, so you know how there are lines in movies that resonate with you and stick with you long after you’ve left the theater? Well Queen of Katwe is one long line that resonates and sticks with you.

We follow Phiona (amazingly played by Madina Nalwanga in her movie debut) from the slums of Katwe in Uganda, to meeting her mentor and chess “coach” Robert (David Oyelowo rocked it out playing him btw) and going up the ranks as a chess player mini “star” in her community and beyond. Her mother Harriet (fiercely played by Lupita Nyong’o) worried for her daughter during the years as she advanced as a chess player, but she grew to understand how important what Phiona was doing was.


Image via Disney

Listen yall… This was a love story. I don’t care what anyone else says.

It was a love story between mother and daughter, where a daughter’s talent and determination helped open a protective mother’s eyes to a world so much bigger than she ever knew. It was a love story between a man and his proteges, Robert put his all into his “pioneers” that he coached in chess (and life) lessons. It’s a love story between a family and their surroundings/lifestyle as well, and a love story of a people and their country.


Image via Disney

I feel like this Queen of Katwe movie review is doing the film no justice whatsoever. It was totally Disney feel good style, but also had these one-liners, mostly from Robert, that spoke directly into my soul and was totally applicable to my life. I’m not a brilliant young chess player in Katwe, but I felt everything he was saying as if he was speaking directly to me.

That is what I loved very much about this film. Yeah, we had a great story. Yeah it was well acted, well directed and magnificently shot… But it was a story, in Africa, far removed from our cushy western life. It represented the diaspora well, without casting a negative light on what poverty is like in Uganda. It focused on the light in people, the good and the hope. But bigger than that, it was relatable to each and every single person watching. We’ve all faced adversity and had challenges to overcome.


Image via Disney

The lines the characters shared like:

  • Sometimes the place you are isn’t where you belong
  • The little one CAN become the big one
  • If you make a plan and follow it, you’ll always find the “safe square”
  • Can you do big things from such a small place?
  • You belong where you believe you belong
  • What matters is when you reset the pieces and play again

Those lines could speak to anyone watching no matter where in the world they are, no matter their age, and no matter what stage in life they’re in or what specific thing they’re going through. While the true story is beautiful, it offered a lot to chew on afterward, especially if you’re the introspective type. (Mad lines I’m stealing for my life coaching business!)

….and I now want to learn how to play chess better, and with strategy, vs just moving pieces around the board and getting captured.

The music in the film was great, Alicia Keys sings a beautiful song…. but there’s one song that I have been boppin’ to every single day since the premiere. I DARE you not to dance (or at least bop in your seat):

You know you love it too. Now you’re gunna be humming it all day! Checkmate!

When will you be seeing Queen of Katwe?

What were your thoughts on the movie?


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