The Queens Gambit When you read the words “Netflix limited drama series about addiction, obsession, trauma, and chess,” the first adjective which springs to mind is probably not “thrilling.”
But here we are, and “The Queen’s Gambit,” Scott Frank’s adaptation of Walter Tevis’
coming-of-age novel of the same name, absolutely demands the use of “thrilling.”
Anchored by a magnetic lead performance and bolstered by world-class acting, marvelous
visual language, a teleplay that’s never less than gripping, and an admirable willingness to
embrace contradiction and ambiguity, it’s one of the year’s best series.
While not without flaws, it is, in short, a triumph.
And it is satisfying not just as a compelling period drama, a character study, and a feast
for the eyes. It’s also, at its heart, a sports movie wrapped up in the vestments of a prestige TV series.
Ask yourself this: When is the last time you fist-pumped the air over chess? Isn’t that something you deserve?
Odds are that Beth Harmon (the remarkable Anya Taylor-Joy) will earn quite a few fist-pumps as people discover Frank and co-creator Alan Scott’s excellent series.
We meet Beth as an eight-year-old (Isla Johnson) when she’s left impossibly unharmed—physically, at least—by the car crash that kills her mother. Her father’s not in the picture, so Beth finds herself at a Christian school for orphans.
While there, she develops three things: a friendship with Jolene (newcomer Moses Ingram, excellent), a passion for chess, and a physical and emotional dependence on the little green tranquilizers fed to the children until they’re outlawed by the state.
When she finally leaves the school, she’s got those last two things packed in her suitcase
alongside a bunch of chess books, a sizable ego, some unexplored trauma, and no small amount of self-loathing.
But it’s the game that drives her, sending her both to the heights of the competitive
chess world and, increasingly, to her hoard of pills and the oblivion offered by alcohol.
In short, Beth has a lot to handle. Luckily, Anya Taylor-Joy is more than up to the task. Playing
Beth from 15 onward, Taylor-Joy gives the kind of performance that only becomes more riveting
the longer you sit with it.
It’s a turn of both intoxicating glamour and precious little vanity, internal without ever being closed-off, heartbreakingly vulnerable and sharply funny, often at once.
Much of the story hinges on when and how Beth is alone—and sometimes
she’s most alone when surrounded by people—and Taylor-Joy’s performance is particularly
remarkable in these moments.
Scenes of Beth alone in her home, in a stranger’s apartment, on a plane, in her bed at
night—they all hum with the kind of energy that only arises when one is truly unobserved.
In this case, however, she’s creating that energy in a room full of cameras and crew members.
That kind of honesty and release is the stuff of acting legend, ดูหนังออนไลน์ like Eleanora Duse’s blush.
It’s yet another high watermark in a young career already full of them, and somehow
she’s never better than when Beth is sitting silently behind a chess board.