The Queen’s Gambit, A Perched Review

Being able to make chess the centre of a miniseries with complex characters and outlining a rich and multifaceted private and public reality is an admirable feat.

In this little-big story we find the torments of a brilliant girl, but with problematic life. We also see a panorama, that of the 1960’s, slightly revisited. The themes of the cold war, of the youth protests and manner of through the eyes if an unprecedented chess champion, perched on her own obsessions. The obsessions lead and supports her, like a raft in the waves of the great world in which she doesn’t know is a chessboard. A defined space, a theatre of defined roles, a series of very precise rules, perfect, that break down and recompose themselves forming very complex tactical architectures. In this small world, she is queen and goddess.

The face of Elizabeth Harmon, the protagonist is Anya Taylor-Jay who, with an embracing glance, supports very well the many close-ups due to the necessarily narrow shots around the game table.

To surround the characters who seem designed to undermine the preconceptions of many genre films. An orphanage caretaker (in principle disturbing and taciturn) who instead of being troublesome turns out to be a Zen master. A dormmate who will become a fairy godmother, a series of original fellow chess players and sincerely attracted by her mysterious aura of untouchability. Then there is an adoptive mother with a profound discomfort, but capable of accompanying her in her growth path in the discipline. And finally, a monolithic and foreign adversary that shows, surprisingly, humanity and paternal warmth.The relationship with parental figures is, in fact, one of the protagonist’s voids. Alcoholism and psychopharmaceuticals are other big problems that stand in the way like traps along its path.

Tournaments always shown with directorial expertise and a compelling tactical solidity and well composed. Elaborate settings and always convincing plot intersections. Remarkable photography and costumes.

A beautiful final scene which confirms her conquered ability to be together with others, finally at ease, and sure of being right and in the right place.