allain’s review published on Letterboxd:
Chess isn’t always competitive. Chess can also be beautiful.
So I spent the past two days watching the miniseries and reading its source material and had this realization that even a seemingly boring game of chess can be transformed into an exhilarating experience in both written and video form. The Queen’s Gambit is a period drama miniseries derived from Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name, telling the story of an orphan and her path of stardom, starting with her discovery of the game of chess and ending with her being a grandmaster herself. The series mainly revolved around the topics of isolation and the ways to cope with it, both constructively and destructively, shown in the life of Beth Harmon, who was orphaned by nine and found inner peace by playing the game of chess.
Losing your parents at such a young age can be a life-long trauma and many will find ways to subdue the feelings of loneliness with an addiction—and in this series’ case, it’s playing chess. Chess is a game that requires a lot of brainpower, as every move, even the first one, determines the probably of a win. It’s incredibly rare to see a female chess player, especially during the times this takes place, as females were branded as impulsive and emotional, but the miniseries wanted to disprove that thinking, as anyone, regardless of gender, can achieve their goals if they put their mind into it. Since chess is a game, there is always a winner and a loser, and life is not always in the winning side. Losing, especially after a long streak of wins, can be degrading, and there are two ways to approach this: either by drowning in self-pity or learning from the mistakes omitted, and what’s wonderful is that the series explored both by showing the consequence of the protagonist’s actions. Achieving your goals can be a bumpy ride, but all you need to do is to keeping moving forward.
One thing that you’ll notice while watching is its divine production and costume design that, partnered with the spectacular cinematography and score, produced a memorable period piece drama that is very reminiscent of The Crown. The message of connecting brilliance and madness was perfectly conveyed with its breathtaking visuals and star-studded cast. The compelling storytelling and complex characters transformed a simple of chess into a mind-blowing and entertaining metaphor about life that you will definitely yearn for more, perhaps another season or two. Anya Taylor-Joy was absolutely phenomenal in embodying the role of a chess prodigy that I almost think that she’s a chess grandmaster herself. Overall, The Queen’s Gambit did something unimaginable—transforming chess into a thrilling and inspiring drama series—and it’s a win, that’s for sure.