Despite the surreal nature of 2020, if someone would have told me that I’d end up being enthralled and loving a show about a child chess prodigy, her quest to take the world by storm and defeat all before her then I’d have laughed and probably said “I don’t think I’ll be watching that, thanks!” However, I have no issue with proclaiming that this is one of the best mini series ever made.
The Queens Gambit is a superb Cold War era tale of an orphan with extraordinary talent and tenacity becoming one of the world’s supreme chess players. Anya Taylor-Joy exudes presence and magnetism as lead protagonist Beth Harmon, an unstable genius that had the worst possible start in life. Her escapades take her on a wrecking mission in the male dominated world of Chess in the 1960’s, set against sexism, racism and challenging societal ‘norms’ it leaves viewers wondering at every possible turn, when is is all going to come crashing down? Is it all going to end in tears? How will she navigate the next challenge?
The cinematography sparkles as viewers are navigated through different parts of 1960’s subculture. Whether it be the seemingly indoctrinating drug of ‘free love’ or the advent of mainstream recreational substance use, as a viewer I felt as though I was part of a revolution.
Special praise is due to Bill Camp who plays a young Beth’s only island of hope, Mr Shaibal and Millie Brady as Cleo, a French model who (much like Beth) is way ahead of her time and positioned as a reflection of objectified women across the globe.
The best shows are the ones that make a lasting impact and it is reported that sales of chess kits and interest in the game has soared because of this series.
One of the all time small screen lead performances you’ll witness and something that you can sit down and watch as a family without any nervous/awkward twitches (very rare these days), so spare 7 hours and get stuck in!
Viewed: October 2020