More Gripping than a TV Show about a chess prodigy should be, Anya Taylor-Joy is truly amazing here. I was enthralled the entire time.
Creators: Scott Frank, Scott Allan, Allan Scott
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chloe Pirrie, Bill Camp
Number of Seasons: 1
Number of Episodes: 7
Runtime: 1 hr Episodes
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Pearl
Eight year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is, until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she’s competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as Beth hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting. Based on the book by Walter Tevis. – From IMDB
So when you are thinking of a topic to write a nail biting TV series about, I am guessing that chess is not the first thing that comes to mind. When I read the synopsis for this, I was kind of shocked, for me, and I imagine a lot of people, a show focussed around chess sounded unimaginably boring. I mean I am OK if I am the one playing the game, albeit badly. But watching someone else play? For 7 solid episodes? No thank you. But boy oh boy was I wrong. This show has a way of making even it’s dry sounding subject matter become completely engrossing and nail biting and just, entirely enthralling. And a lot of it is thanks to it’s main lady, played by the oh so talented Anya-Taylor-Joy.
Proving to be a young actress to watch, Joy is constantly putting out amazing content, and this is no different. Proving here that she is able to expand her already considerable acting chops to include a serious dramatic role, she holds your complete attention entirely. This storyline needed to be headed up by a phenomenal performance as it is a largely character based story. Otherwise you are literally watching people play chess for seven hours. Luckily for Netflix, they found the perfect leading lady in Anya Taylor-Joy. Her portrayal is captivating and is really what keeps you watching hour after hour. If you were even in any doubt of her ability after films like ‘The VVitch’ and ‘Spilt’ then this series will definitely show you how good she really is.
The story is surprisingly dark, focusing on Beth’s spiralling dependency on Drugs and Alcohol how she is exploited by her mother for money, and just the immense amount of pressure that Beth puts on herself. It is good then towards the end that we see a glimmer for hope for Beth. That her life isn’t going to continue in it’s downwards spiral and that she had people around her the whole time who could support her. It was a great emotional and hopeful ending at the climax of such a tense and nail biting show.
I would highly recommend this show. Don’t let the synopsis put you off, it is about a whole lot more that just a girl playing chess. ‘The Queens Gambit’ is streaming now on Netflix.