The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix drama miniseries created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott. It is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis.
I was introduced to Anya Taylor-Joy in 2015’s The VVItch. If you haven’t watched that movie, well, let’s just say it was horrifying. Yes, the subject matter, sure, but Taylor-Joy’s performance was nothing less than the horrifying subject matter. She brings her incredible acting chops to Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, a miniseries that is a wonderful and thrilling ride into the world of chess and the mind of a broken girl.
The Queen’s Gambit follows Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy, who, from an early age proves to be wonderful at the sport. This is a sports series, wrapped up in a wonderful bundle of drama and thrill. Yes, thrill, because the series is nothing less than thrilling. I won’t ruin anything for you, because this is a show that you must go into without any preconceived notions.
I didn’t expect to like The Queen’s Gambit, but I was hooked from the first minute of it. The stellar cast, the costume and set design and a tight screenplay are what you’ll be exposed to when the slow slowly unravels. There’s not a scene that feels boring or overly stretched. Beth’s character is given ample time to be a whole person of flesh and blood and it never feels too much. Even people around her are given enough time and characterisations to make them interesting. By the third episode, I was sentimental about everyone on the show and even cried when Beth said goodbye to Mr. Shaibel.
Like how I started this review with, Anya Taylor-Joy’s acting is a joy that we have witnessed time and time again. She is the heart of The Queen’s Gambit, and she pulls off that role effortlessly. We see her lonely and vulnerable, yet resilient, and you see that by the way her eyes move (no, seriously). Well, she’s the loneliest when she is surrounded by people, complete with a tinge of self-loathing, and it takes some skill to portray that on-screen. Taylor-Joy is like a breath of fresh air, and you will be happy and sad for her throughout.
Other than her, we also have a wonderful ensemble cast that delivers some beautifully hard-hitting performances. Be it Moses Ingram, Bill Camp, Marielle Heller or Christiane Seidel, the performances are phenomenal. They root you to the story along with the leading lady and give the story depth.
Along with performances, The Queen’s Gambit’s costume and production are top-notch. Every time of clothing seems to be tailor-made for the person who’s wearing it, especially Beth’s. We see her change from awkward to confident by the way she dresses, and that’s a wonder to behold. It skillfully portrays 1960s America as well, but it isn’t just that. It portrays the era with class, elegance, and just the right amount of sexy. Production quality and design, too, is great, and there’s not a moment that feels disconnected from the storyline itself.
As I said somewhere above, this is a thriller – because it is. Every scene, every moment with Beth showcases her thoughts, mindsets and of course, her competitiveness. The scenes featuring her competition in chess matches are one of the most thrilling things I’ve seen on media, and that’s saying something. You wouldn’t expect that to happen when it comes to chess, but the direction, coupled with the screenplay, make it hard-to-breathe level good. The way Taylor-Joy’s eyes move with the chess pieces is something to be seen, honestly.
Summing up: The Queen’s Gambit
I don’t remember the last time I was so engrossed in a TV show from the first moment. It’s breathless, thrilling and sometimes feels weirdly sexual (you’ll know what I’m talking about), with the right doses of giving a glimpse into the fragility of a woman who has gone through and seen too much. The show is wonderfully crafted, acted and executed, and there’s not a scene out of place with it. Highly recommend this one.
The Queen’s Gambit is streaming on Netflix.
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