Queen of Katwe is a biographical sports drama directed by Mira Nair, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga. Nalwanga makes her feature film debut in Queen of Katwe and stars as Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in Katwe which is the largest slum in Kampala. This film tells the true story of Mutesi who learns to play chess and reaches such a high level that she could become a Woman Candidate Master and escape from poverty and the harshness of life in Katwe for herself and her family. Nyong’o stars as the mother of Mutesi while Oyelowo plays the role of Robert Katende, Mutesi’s chess coach.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Queen of Katwe

My interest in seeing this film was largely down to the impressive cast. Certainly, Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo are highly talented and have been brilliant in other films, especially Oyelowo who was fantastic in The Butler and in portraying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. Additionally, this film had been receiving critical praise prior to its release which only served to enhance my anticipation and give me a sense that this Queen of Katwe was, at the very least, going to be good.

Madina Nalwanga as Phiona Mutesi in Queen of Katwe

My Thoughts on Queen of Katwe

I am pleased to say that Queen of Katwe is a very good film and this is largely down to the excellent performances. Madina Nalwanga is really good which is quite remarkable considering that this is her feature film debut. She gives a performance beyond her years and I hope to see more of her in the future. Nevertheless, while Nalwanga is really good, Nyong’o and Oyelowo are the stars of this film. They give the film class and help to captivate the audience and make them become emotionally invested in a story which has a good balance of dramatic and light-hearted moments.

Moreover, the themes which are present in Queen of Katwe help to make this a feel-good film which is something we all need considering everything that has happened in the world recently. Evidently, there a lot of good things in this film. However, if I was to pick out one thing that I think could have been improved it would be the running time. This film did feel a bit too long and I feel that certain things could have been trimmed and cut to reduce the running time by 10-15 minutes. This would have made Queen of Katwe tighter in its storytelling.

Madina Nalwanga and Lupita Nyong'o in Queen of Katwe

Still, this is a small, personal negative which does not take from the overall quality of the film. Certainly, Queen of Katwe is one of this year’s more uplifting films with excellent performances by Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, a really good debut by Madina Nalwanga and a positive message is showcased at a time of negativity. If you are looking for a film which will inspire you and improve your mood, then Queen of Katwe will certainly do the job.

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