The Queen’s Gambit Review

Tatum D’Emanuele

My rating: 4 stars out of 4

The Queen’s Gambit, a seven-episode Netflix series about a female chess prodigy, is one of the most popular shows currently on TV and it is truly a work of art. Based on the book The Queen’s Gambit, by Walter Tevis, the series takes place in the 50’s and into the 60’s, following an orphaned girl named Beth Harmon. Beth first learns how to play chess from the janitor at her orphanage, and as she continues to play with him she gets better and better. She is later adopted and starts to enter chess competitions, winning all of them. As she gets older, she gets into more competitions and time and time again is able to beat her opponents, until she takes on the best chess player in the world.

This show is mostly centered around the game of chess. There is personal drama and some romance in it, but it’s focus is the game. Beth and the other players use chess terms that I didn’t originally know, but as I kept watching I found I could understand more of the plays they were talking about. The Queen’s Gambit is also a show about addiction. Beth struggles from a very young age with an addiction to pills. The pills help her see the game in a whole different light. She hides behind her addiction to pills and alcohol and starts to believe she needs them to play well.

As a film devotee, I was really intrigued with the series. The first thing I noticed and loved about The Queen’s Gambit was the color contrast between the shots. Most of the scenes used a bland sort of palate at the beginning to show the low points in Beth’s life while at the orphanage. As she got older, the colors got a little brighter, and as she started winning money from competitions she started getting more colorful clothes and the props and backgrounds became more vibrant.

The acting in this series from every actor, especially Anya Taylor-Joy who plays Beth, is charming and dramatic; at a level some actors haven’t been able to hit in their entire careers. Every scene, either sad or powerful, is implemented beautifully. I could really feel the message of Beth’s story through and through. The directing was phenomenal, too. The fast pace of the series really kept me interested and the cinematography was spot-on. Every shot was significant, whether it was a God-view or a Dutch tilt shot, it was all wonderful.

All together, this series has taken my breath away and I highly recommend it for both chess lovers and non-players. It hit all the right notes on costumes, sets, props, directing, cinematography, and acting. Every moment was important for character development and the story. Unlike any series I have seen, it captures the emotional seriousness but also the intoxicating victories we all need during these stressful times.