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While restoring an old painting showing a woman and two men playing chess, Julia discovers the text "Who killed the knight" underneath the paint. The owner of the painting tells her that one of his forefathers was killed, the painting might identify the murderer. When Julia's friend is killed she understands that there is more to it. She consults Domenec, a chess genius who reconstructs the game from the painting. With any piece he takes, somebody dies. Written by
Radboud Bruinsma <Radboud_Bruinsma@hg.maus.de>
Julia (Kate Beckinsale) an art restorer finds a hidden message in medieval painting she is working on that points to the murderer of one of the subjects depicted. Fascinated she digs deeper into the origins of the painting and the clues within. The old mystery though is soon paralleled by a new mystery as the people involved in her research start to die. The story is seemingly well suited to the British mystery genre but fails largely due to aspects of the execution.
Kate Beckinsale manages with her portrayal to be both slightly awkward as well as endearingly cute but she seems decidedly out of her depth in a few of the more emotional/dramatic scenes. The film does boast a strong supporting cast of British character actors who may not have name recognition to some but should be highly recognizable to many including; John Wood, Sinead Cusack, Michael Gough. For the most part the supporting cast acquit themselves well considering how clichéd their characters are.
While some may find it slow I was interested in the glimpse at the Art restoration process, I thought some things look authentic about the process, but other aspects didn't quite ring true. The current day murder mystery aspect was far less satisfying, character behavior and actions seemed inconsistent and for me the biggest flaw (considering the genre) was that the identity of the murderer seemed far to obvious. Further the brief flashbacks to the subjects of the painting did virtually nothing to advance or support the story, they simply felt unnecessary.
The film is set in Barcelona but features an almost entirely English cast that speaks entirely in English and makes no attempt at Spanish accents. This is common in American films but seemed odd in a British film. The film makes reasonable use of the Barcelona locations including some wonderful Gaudi architecture, but I actually would have preferred even more attention on the culture and the city.
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