Home Entertainment Tread the line between genius and insanity in Netflix’s limited series The Queen’s Gambit

Tread the line between genius and insanity in Netflix’s limited series The Queen’s Gambit

2 min read

The Queen’s Gambit is Netflix’s upcoming limited series that’s based on Walter Tevis’ highly-regarded 1983 novel of the same name. The series was created by Scott Frank (the man behind Netflix’s excellent western series Godless) and Allan Scott (Don’t Look Now, and the man who’s owned the rights to the novel since 1992), with Frank directing.

There’ve been a number of attempts to bring the novel to the big screen over the years, but they’ve all fallen through for various reasons. The last, attempted by Scott in 2007, would’ve seen the late Heath Ledger making his directorial debut and co-starring alongside Ellen Page. Now we’ve got Anya Taylor-Joy (Split, The New Mutants) taking the lead as a young chess prodigy with substance abuse issues.

The show’s official synopsis is as follows:

Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, the Netflix limited series drama The Queen’s Gambit is a coming-of-age story that explores the true cost of genius. Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, a young Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.

Let’s take a look:

Taylor-Joy is fast becoming one of my favourite new actors because she always delivers excellent performances, and she’s doing so once more in what looks like a superb psychological drama. It’s a fascinating portrait of someone teetering on the edge and struggling with their demons, which are further exacerbated by the spotlight of new-found fame. The series also looks like it eschews the standard pretentiousness that normally goes hand-in-hand with bringing the over-rated “sport” of chess to the screen.

As I said before this is a limited series, but Tevis did mention in an interview before his death in 1984 that he was planning to write a sequel, so it’ll be interesting to see if Netflix would consider continuing the story if this gets a very positive reception – and based on this trailer I think it just could.

What do you think?

The Queen’s Gambit will premiere on Netflix on 23 October. It also stars Moses Ingram, Bill Camp, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Marielle Heller, Harry Melling, and Rebecca Root.

Last Updated: September 28, 2020

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