Anya Taylor-Joy dominates the screen in her greatest on-screen performance yet, the production is superb (set design, costume design, colour design, etc.), the subject matter is interesting, the story is compelling, and the show isn’t afraid to take on a lot of themes (feminism, competition, addiction, communism, and more). There are many moments throughout that are emotionally resonant, intelligently written, or just downright engaging.
However, it feels like ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ bit off a little more than it could chew. It ends up saying very little about a lot of things, rather than saying a lot about a few things. While the production values can be commended, the show leaves a lot to be desired in terms of aesthetic. All too often, the show takes the easy route with its visuals, resorting to uninteresting shots and flimsy editing to tell a story (i.e. addiction is continuously represented visually via Beth holding pills, staring at them, and then either taking them or doing something else with them, which is not interesting or creative – it becomes more problematic when you realize that there is little distinction between similar scenes throughout the show (you could cut out all of the scenes with Beth deciding whether or not to give in to her addiction, mix them up, put them back in, and it wouldn’t make a big difference)).
Overall, ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is worth the watch as it delivers a solid story, solid acting, solid production design, and some great characters along the way. But ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is not the Beth Harmon of TV shows… it’s more like the Harry Beltik (maybe even the Benny Watts).
8/10 – Great