The Queen’s Gambit review – Anya-Taylor Joy basks in her character Finding the right move.

October 22, 2020
Daniel Hart 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
4

Summary

With its strong themes and understanding of the times, this is a must-see drama this year. This series serves a checkmate in its opening chapters.

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4

Summary

With its strong themes and understanding of the times, this is a must-see drama this year. This series serves a checkmate in its opening chapters.

This review of Netflix limited series The Queen’s Gambit contains no spoilers. The drama starring Anya-Taylor Joy will be released on October 23, 2020.

We recapped every episode — check out the archive.


Based on the novel of the same name, Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit manages to make the world of chess have a level of excitement and superiority that we possibly would not have imagined unless we were part of its history. It’s a story where anticipation is the major influence — the characters all live in the moment, with the movement of chess pieces having some uncanny impact as we hear the board evolve. This is a well-directed series, with each chapter closing in on the lead character who has many charms and quirks, but most importantly, an abundance of intelligence that is interesting to witness.

Anya-Taylor Joy plays Beth Harmon, tracing her life from an orphanage to her unprecedented rise to grandmaster ranks. Beth is embroiled in childhood abandonment, and her early exposure to tranquilizers gives her the route to addiction in life. The Queen’s Gambit brings chess to this character as a form of escapism but also a measure of control. Beth is an intriguing character; she’s quiet and witty but closes her walls. Anya-Taylor Joy basks in this character as if it was hers, silently gracing each screen and ensuring her performance makes Beth the centerpiece of the story.

Of course, there are other characters in The Queen’s Gambit and the themes represent the 50s and 60s. However, the lead character is the cornerstone to each scene and she brings the themes strongly; there’s a real sense that Beth is honing in on her genius side and is attempting to derail the “she’s a woman” narrative that is sensationalized in the media. On the other hand, this is a story where as the character earns more success, that element of control is harder to realize and manage. The Netflix series is a real genuine balance of genius and mental health — and during difficult times, a balance that will be understood on the screen.

The other performances work well in The Queen’s Gambit. As the story heads into the depths of chess competitions and International Opens, supporting characters appear more important. They become part of Beth’s mechanics rather than a throwaway relationship that easily resigns. There’s also a level of relaxation to the story; it doesn’t fall short by trying to overdramatize the 50/60s, rather it allows the characters to feel the era, rather the era feeling them.

With a significant leading performance, The Queen’s Gambit makes the world of chess seem exciting and cool. With its strong themes and understanding of the times, this is a must-see drama this year. This series serves as a checkmate in its opening chapters.


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