Star Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Harry Melling, Marielle Heller, Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Director: Scott Frank
Star Ratings: 3/5 (Three stars)
The Queen’s Gambit Review: What is it about?
A 10-year-old Elizabeth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) loses her mother in a tragic accident. With no family by her side, she’s shifted to an adoption agency. Until she gets adopted by someone there, Beth gets to study in their in house school there. At the agency, the girls are giving two capsules before bed. One of them is a tranquillizer that makes her feel sharp and focused. In the basement, she excels the game of chess with a janitor. Everyone is amazed by her penchant to play the game of boards like a pro at such a young age.
When Beth turns 13, she gets adopted by Alma Wheatley (Marielle Heller). That’s when her life changes entirely. Beth gets to participate in several local chess championships which she wins like it’s a cakewalk for her. Gradually, with time, she faces one of the biggest chess champions from Russia, Vasily Borgov (Marcin Dorocinski).
The Queen’s Gambit: What’s good?
The series uses flashback to narrate the story of our lead character. It was clever of Scott Frank to use this style as it made me curious and engaged to know Beth’s childhood and her journey. The story is set during the 1960s, so people’s lifestyle, mannerisms and opinion towards woman are backwards. Chess is not considered as a woman’s game, but here’s Beth beating all the champions in no time from a young age. However, a game of chess is quite complicated, and that’s what we get to see in this intense and complex limited Netflix series.
The matches were intense and cutthroat. Even if knows little about chess, they pay attention to the way people are discussing the moves in it.
Anya Taylor-Joy is rock solid throughout the series. From playing a teenage girl to a grown-up woman in the world of chess, we see a lot of shades of her character. Beth is not an emotional person at all. However, we witness her passion, love, addiction and emotional attachment to the game of chess. We also get to see her addiction to the pills growing along with alcohol later. Anya plays the character with conviction and looks stunning in every scene. Her style of dressing, hairstyle, and the way she walks and talks make her appear like a mystery that you, as a viewer, would want to figure out till the end.
Actors Marielle Heller and Harry Melling’s characters play a crucial part in her journey. Both the actors give a superb performance in the series.
The Queen’s Gambit: What’s bad?
It’s very slow. The first episode kickstarts on a good note. But things take time to unfold and only get more interesting from episode 3. However, after the 5th episode, the pace gets slower again. Another drawback is how dark and intense it is. It’s heavy to watch and for people who don’t know about the game of chess, it will appear disinteresting after some time. Not everyone will enjoy the series.
The Queen’s Gambit: Final Word
The show is a mixed bag of some good points and several drawbacks. The performances are good and the game of chess is explored like never before. But it gets tiresome to watch sometimes. Not everyone will be able to catch up until the end game.