It’s easy to form a preconceived notion about The Dark Horse before it even begins. The film is based on a true story. It centres on Genesis Potini, a mentally ill chess prodigy. It involves a rag-tag group of underprivileged kids and a national tournament. There’s also a dark side to the film featuring a scary Maori biker gang and hints of a culture clash. Pick your movie cliche: a teacher learning more about himself as he teaches his students, an underdog sports story, a mental illness reclamation project. It’s all there and yet, The Dark Horse never quite feels rote.
What to Watch is the Same Page’s monthly film recommendations column where we help you decide which movies you should give your time to. For each week there’s a winner and a runner-up, with a brief write-up for each, to give you some idea of what each quality film is about and why you should maybe (or definitely) check it out.