Every now and then there is this series or film that comes along that really makes you glad that someone took the time to tell the story. Queen’s Gambit releasing on Netflix today is most certainly one of them. It’s a beautiful period drama, starring the gorgeous Anya Taylor-Joy that is well worth the watch.
So what’s it all about?
Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, it’s a coming-of-age story that explores the true cost of genius. Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, a young Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilisers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.
We’re watching it for the fashion, right?
Yes! But no… this series is a fascinating look at the world of chess, or let’s rather call it the chess sub-culture. If you barely know chess rules, as I do, the world of professional chess as portrayed in this series is fascinating. It’s tactical (which is, pardon me, something I never knew about chess) and challenging and complicated, and in this case, makes for a good backdrop to what can only be described as a very insightful glance into mental illness and, as mentioned above, the cost of genius.
But yes, the fashion is amazing. The sets are amazing and it really enables you to get a glimpse of a time where a female chess player shook the professional scene. What the series definitely gets right in my view is that Beth wholeheartedly embraces her femininity. She does not shy away from it, rather opting for gorgeous dresses and suits that highlight her femininity. In the face of this world where she is seen as an outsider, she clings to who she is.
As mentioned, it is a curious look into the mind of a genius, as well as addiction. In this series, addiction shows itself in several different forms and by using several different faces. Addiction is however never romanticised, which is another thing I really appreciate about this series. Instead of serving addiction to us as a motivator to success, the addiction portrayed in Queen’s Gambit is anxious and on edge. Every second it’s felt on screen, you just now you’re one scene away from total disaster.
All in all, Queen’s Gambit is a gorgeous, glamorous, uneasy coming-of-age drama that will have you binging the entire series in a day, questioning your own addictions.
Ps. Queen’s Gambit is a chess move (yes, I had to Google it). According to the chesswebsite.com “the objective of the queen’s gambit is to temporarily sacrifice a pawn to gain control of the e5 square”.