Chess as a metaphor for life is the sort of cinematic trope most audiences are very used to seeing on the big screen, but James Napier Robertson’s “The Dark Horse” isn’t just playing the game for fun. It’s doing it to tell a stirring true story.
Per the film’s official synopsis, it is “based on the true story of Genesis ‘Gen’ Potini (Cliff Curtis), a Maori speed-chess champion seeking redemption and a new purpose in life despite his struggles with bipolar disorder. A former chess prodigy, Gen is brilliant and charismatic, bringing unusual, potent energy to a game most often played with quiet reserve. Upon his release from an institution, he is remanded into the custody of his older brother Ariki (Wayne Hapi), the leader of a rough street gang planning the initiation of Gen’s reluctant teenage nephew Mana (James Rolleston). When Gen volunteers to coach the ragtag young members of the Eastern Knights chess club, Mana is inspired by his uncle’s determination to bring hope to the children of the club and turn his troubled life around, while seeing it as a chance to possibly save his own.”
READ MORE: Review: Cliff Curtis Excels as a Chess Master in ‘The Dark Horse’
The film also stars Kirk Torrance and Miriama McDowell.
“The Dark Horse” opens this Friday, April 1. Check out our exclusive clip up above.