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‘Knight Moves’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 25, 1993

It's possible to view "Knight Moves," Carl Schenkel's mercilessly repetitious new thriller, as an example of experimental cinema -- that is, as an attempt by its star to make it through the entire film without once changing expression.

And not only does the experiment fail, the lab blows up too.

The star (and we're using the term loosely) is the French actor Christopher Lambert, who plays a chess master in the midst of a championship match when a serial killer singles him out for what they call on television "a deadly game of murder." And that's where this thing belongs. On TV. Public-access cable TV.

Lambert's facial expression itself is priceless -- a combination of Marlon Brando (in, say, "Candy") and Ben Turpin, the cross-eyed silent comic. It's as if he were trying to move his chess pieces by mental telepathy. Unfortunately, he uses the same glowering look to seduce the foxy psychologist (Diane Lane) assigned to help the chief of police (Tom Skerritt). And to face down the killer. And, for that matter, to wash his hair, which he seems to do in every other scene.

Ostensibly, the sight of Lambert with wet hair in a towel is supposed to make us swoon and forget all this other nonsense. But though some may swoon, few will forget. Nor will they forgive.

"Knight Moves" is rated R for sensuality and violence.

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