Brooklyn Castle

By Jared Young

Mailed on March 14, 2012

Stamp image Priority
StarStarStarStarHalf Star

Dear Nelson Dellamaggiore
Producer and Editor

Dear Nelson,

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say, sarcastically, thanks a lot.

You had a lot of material to work with when you began assembling Brooklyn Castle, the documentary about P.S. 318's after school chess program that was co-produced and directed by your wife, Katherine. So many stories to tell about so many unlikely chess prodigies: the hyper-charismatic Pobo, the unsettlingly intense Justus, the ambitious Rochelle and the quiet, neurotic Alexis. And though you had to splice in a couple of awkward (and obviously staged) expositional conversations to keep the narrative moving, you're editing gives every character - the kids, the parents, the teachers - a chance to live fully on the screen.

But, really, it's the character of Patrick, who appears late into the film as a foil to the chess team's top guns, that makes Brooklyn Castle something more than just a story about future grandmasters and their quests to escape poverty. His minor struggles, threaded beneath the larger movements of the plot, are the humanizing element of the film. He's the kid ranked second-to-last, who just wants to get better, who, with ADHD, struggles just to concentrate on the board, and he's our way into the story. Late in the film, when he has his chance to finally help his team, his small moment of triumph overshadows all the climactic trophy ceremonies and celebrations.

And made me cry in front of a hundred strangers. So, yeah, thanks, Nelson.

Thanks a lot.

Looks away, rubs eyes with T-shirt,

Jared Young

comments powered by Disqus
(% endraw %}