The Queen of Katwe
Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) was three when her father died. When she was nine, Phiona's family, living in the poverty-stricken slums of rural Uganda, had to pull her out of school because of their financial situation. Phiona sells maize in the street to try to scrape together some money for her family, which includes her two brothers, a sister, and her mother Harriet (Lupita Nyong'o). Her life changes when Phiona and her oldest brother Brian (Martin Kabanza) meet a soccer player turned missionary named Robert Katende (David Oyelowo).
Based on a true story, and on the book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream by Tim Crothers. Featuring outstanding performances and beautifully and cinematically directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair, The Namesake, Amelia, The Reluctant Fundamentalist).
New York Observer/Rex Reed
The story is true, and the message it delivers-with care and help, the disenfranchised can become role models and inspire others-is unabashedly sentimental, but in a good way.
Rolling Stone/Peter Travers
Directed by the great Mira Nair, the film hits you like a shot in the heart. Nyong'o and Oyelowo are both extraordinary, giving newcomer Nalwanga a chance to shine as Phiona grows into her own woman.
Consequence of Sound/Blake Gobell
Not only was this filmed in the real Phiona’s home in Uganda, but it embraces the sights and sounds of her experience. Director Mira Nair has always foregrounded native immersion as the style and substance of her work. Salaam Bombay!, Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake; all of these speak to characters defined by their culture. Her style of storytelling, her quality of filmmaking, and her unique interests upstage any predictability.
Chicago Sun-Times/Richard Roeper
...this still works as a solid Disney sports movie because of the remarkable story, Mira Nair’s energetic and uplifting direction, and one of the most endearing casts I’ve enjoyed in any movie this year.
Queen of Katwe's originality comes not in its story but in its setting, explored by Nair with her usual skill at establishing a sense of place.
AV Club/Katie Rife
Director Mira Nair has a proven ability to find beauty in the most desperate of circumstances, and Queen Of Katwe is no different.