This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Dylan Cooper’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I know jack shit about chess. I have no idea how to play it and if someone were to teach me how to play it, I think it would take a span of days for me to BARELY know what I’m doing. Me not knowing anything about chess didn't stop me from LOVING this LS (limited series).
Ever since I heard about this LS I was on board. All I saw was Anya Taylor-Joy on the cover and I was sold. The more I see from her, the more I think of her as one of my all time favorite actresses. She's amazing in ‘Split’, one of the few bright spots in ‘Glass’, phenomenal in ‘The VVitch and my anticipation for ‘Last Night in Soho’ is about the same as it was for ‘Endgame’. Not only because it's a Edgar Wright film, but because Anya is in it and she has yet to let me down.
Speaking of Anya Taylor-Joy, she once again blew me away. She’s just too damn good in this. She REALLY shined in the last 2 episodes. The scene where she broke down in the car gave me chills.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster is an actor I always completely forget about. Last thing I saw him in was ‘The Maze Runner’. He was pretty good in this. Wish we got to see more from his character but I’ll get more into that later.
Harry Melling was good in this as well. Some of you Harry Potter fans may recognize him. Don't know who he was in it but with a quick Google search I saw that he was in almost all of them. I would be interested in seeing him do a horror. He gave me some creepy vibes. Definitely wasn't intentional. Just the vibe I got from him. Again, he was pretty good in this. Interested in seeing more from him. I saw that he’s in ‘The Devil All The Time’. Still need to check that one out.
I didn't see any weak performances from the main cast. There was this one russian boy that I thought could’ve been better but he was only in one scene in like the 4th episode so I won't talk about it anymore than I need to.
I really liked the character arc from Harmon (Joy’s character). I was extremely into everything that was happening with her character and everything that was happening around her. While watching this, I thought that it was based on a true story but apparently it isn't and that kinda surprised me. Everything she went through felt very real and not made up but apparently it was.
Some little things I really liked were the score, the cinematography, the visuals and the setting.
So something most of you know by now is that I REALLY dislike whenever a movie or show goes out of order for seemingly no reason. I don't understand why people do that to their movies or shows. Maybe it's to show us where the character is in the future, then it flashes back and shows us how they came to be in that situation? That’s the only thing I can think of. This LS starts with a flash ahead, then it goes to where the LS SHOULD’VE started and then the series plays out for the rest of the show. We later catch up in like the 2nd to last episode. I just really hate whenever a movie, show or whatever does it. It can be done right but in this, it just didn't feel necessary. ‘Breaking Bad’ did the same thing in its last season and that ALWAYS annoys me whenever I rewatch the show (which is like 2 times a year lol). Like, you’re spoiling what’s gonna happen! Admittingly, this LS isn't NEARLY as annoying since it's not giving too much away but it's still annoying.
I didn't like the casting for the little kid version of Harmon. I thought the actress was good, no issues with the performance. It's the casting choice. She looks NOTHING like Anya Taylor-Joy. It's not a BIG issue, but it's something that bothered me whenever I saw her.
Now onto the bigger problems I had. It feels as if this show was missing an episode or two. I really could’ve used another episode of Harmon in the orphanage so they could develop the relationship between her and Jolean (her “best friend”). Towards the end of the show, Harmon and Jolean act like they were best friends but I just didn't see that. They barely talked. All Jolean really told her was to take the green pill at night and they sometimes ate together and talked. It wasn't enough to indicate that they were best friends.
The relationship between Harmon and her foster mom was a weird one. It felt all over the place. The mom wanted nothing to do with her and didn't support her love for Chess until she found out that Harmon could make money from it. Then from then on, she was VERY hands on with her and flew her all over the place and drank martini’s, got expensive hotel rooms, clothes, etc. with HARMON’S money! Then she wanted a cut of her money and Harmon gave it to her. I thought that that was going to be brought up but it never did. The mom dies before it was ever brought up. I still thought that it was gonna come back in SOME way but it never did.
The relationship between Harmon and her friends was really weird too. She sleeps with 2 out of 5 out of them. Her sleeping with the 2 feels so unnecessary. Why did she do that? Was she a sex addict or something? If so, they didn't really do that good of a job. You can't just make your character a sex addict and show that to your audience by having her sleep with 2 of her closest friends. Aside from her sleeping with her friends, I liked their relationships. Really wish we got to see more of it though. This show doesn't nearly spend as much time developing their relationships as they should have. To me anyways.
The father character seems so underused. He’s in it in the beginning, leaves, is called when the mother dies, and isn't brought up until the 2nd to last episode and even when he’s brought back, it seems kinda pointless. He doesn't want her to have the house, then she buys it off of him and then he’s cool with it. The more I think of that character, the more I think of how easily he could’ve been removed and nothing would change. Wish they did more with him.
The relationship between Harmon and Townes is SOOO very underdeveloped. She’s apparently in love with him but I didn't really buy it. Like yeah, she had a moment with him but I didn't see that as an “I’m in love with you” moment. I saw it as a “Man oh man, I really want to kiss you right now” moment. I really wish we got to see more of their relationship. Again, maybe if we got an episode or two more, they would have developed their relationship more.
I wish this LS did more with the flashbacks. I really liked what they did with the last episode but I wanted more. I wish the flashbacks haunted her. It seems as if she blocked out most of what happened in the flashbacks. When we fully see what happened that day, I wish it got a reaction out of her.
Lastly, I wish we got more from the ending. The last episode is 1hr 7 mins and I think that that’s the longest episode but it feels as if they were rushing through it. Like, I wanted to see more from the chess games since it's the finale and I wanted to see more from the ending ending. I think if they added an extra 15-20 mins, it would really help it.
Maybe I’m just dumb but I didn't really get the ending. She gets out of the car to walk to the airport and goes through one of those parks filled with chess boards and old people playing. Everyone surrounds her because she's a very popular figure, then she sits down with an old man and plays chess with him. Not really sure why they chose to end this the way it did.
All that aside, I really liked this limited series. I know it might not seem that way since I went on and on about what I DIDN'T like, but I DID enjoy it. A lot actually. Not once did I feel board (ha) while watching this. It didn't even feel like a show. It felt like a movie. It went by so fast. I was surprisingly invested the entire time.
Even though I have issues with this LS, I’m definitely going to watch this again one day and I’m 100% going to be buying this on Blu-Ray whenever/if ever I see it.
Highly recommend this one. For once, the Netflix hype is legit.
STRONG 3.5 out of 5