Set during a chess championship at which widowed Grand Master Lambert is making a comeback, this irritating and over-complicated thriller features a clever opening gambit, a series of predictable moves, and a disappointing end game. A classic case of all plot and no substance, it embroils Lambert in a serial killer's sick and dangerous game of nerves: taunted by cryptic phone calls and clues written on the wall in the female victims' blood, he teams up with the police to trap the killer. But Lambert's casual sexual involvement with the first victim means the cops still regard him as the prime suspect. The film's chief difficulty is in persuading us not only that its handsome star (playing opposite his real-life wife) could be the killer, but that the chess player could have both opportunity and motive. In a vain effort to disguise this inherent implausibility, Schenkel piles on the baroque camerawork, over-designed sets and flashy editing; but the denouement erases all the interesting and subversive possibilities at a stroke.
Cast and crew