The Queen's Gambit (2020) by Allan Scott and Scott Frank

A thoroughly binge-worthy show that manages to surprise you by never going for the obvious drama. The show’s greatest strength is that it manages to convey volumes of emotion through subtle interactions and chess moves. More is understood about the protagonist’s trauma, state of mind, and relationships, through looks, chess moves (and outcomes), and actions than anything else. Where most shows would have placed dramatic confrontations, and reveals to shock the audience, The Queen’s gambit bravely stays true to the character’s journey and is happy to say exactly what is necessary and no more. The sense that Beth (Anya Taylor Joy) is spiraling never goes away and yet it does not happen like you’d imagine. We also come to care deeply for Beth but because of who she is rather than what happens to her. Sure the two compliment each other, but the writers do not force trauma onto their protagonist to evoke sympathy. The wave of empathy does the heavy lifting for them.

Perhaps the only issue I have with the show is Anya Taylor Joy’s performance which is excellent and yet leaves something to be desired. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to play a character that is projecting a sense of control or has been directed to look like model about to be photographed. It could be that never has there been a sexier chess player in cinema, but there was something captivating and at the same time distracting about her presence. I imagine this contradictory point serves no use to any reader so let me say this; The Queen’s Gambit is a well-executed show, with excellent pacing and a refreshing range of characters.

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