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The Queen’s Gambit – Review

Aileen Zaera

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Beth Harmon The Queen's Gambit image
Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit, starring Anya Taylor Joy, arrived on 23 October this year on Netflix, here’s our review of Season One.

It’s based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis. The author comments that he was not inspired by any specific player to create the main character. He was inspired by his experiences as a chess player and in his tournaments.

He also took inspiration in his daughter and his aunt since they had powerful character. Both served to be the model of Beth’s personality and attitude.

How did this series originate?

At an early age, Beth is an orphan girl who discovers her true passion and vocation: chess. The story transports us to the United States in the 50s. She will live and experience a wave of emotions and learning with it, on the way to trying to become a chess champion.

The Queen’s Gambit shows that a series can be exciting, adorable, and show a great visual style. Unlike other series released in recent months on Netflix, it has a content of value that goes beyond a beautiful dress.

Scott Frank and Allan Scott are the people in charge and the masterminds behind this project. They make chess one of the most exciting activities thanks to a dynamic montage that takes away the tedium from most of the games.

They also have an incredible setting. Although the camera loves chess and its pieces, also loves the people behind them.

How does Beth move on the board of her life?

Anya Taylor Joy is in charge of giving life to Beth. In this role, it is verified that she is, currently, one of the most talented actresses of her generation.

Like the game, the character does not ask for permission to make the next move. She acts on her instincts and looking out for her best interests at the moment. Although sometimes her decisions do not always end up being favourable.

During these games, the camera focuses on Beth’s face, eyes, and hands. This makes the viewer understand that the intention is not to teach the plays. The most important thing is the weight that each action on the board has within the protagonist.

It can be said that Anya Taylor Joy has managed to channel those emotions without problems. The spectators, even if they do not know chess and do not understand anything of what happens in the games, can feel anxious and excited. Everyone wishes that Beth wins again.

The white and black pieces of history

Now, both the loss and the search for purpose are two key elements in the story. Not only for the protagonist but also for all the characters that go with her, such as her mother. It is quite interesting and striking how Alma’s character, played by the wonderful Marielle Heller, was developed.

It is memorable the exquisite way they explored the adolescence of Beth, as she only wants to experience life. Her methods were drinking, using pills, and dating strangers.

Also, it is completely fascinating how they pose the relationship between mother and daughter. There is a kind of agreement or empathy not expressed verbally.

In fact, the mother often acts childishly; she leaves her daughter in the background as she is searching for her own place in life. Yet, this is not something that creates conflict, as Beth’s character understands her. And it is not natural that she can have this way of understanding. Beth also asks herself every day: where is my life going? Who am I without chess?

In fact, there are chapters where the mother’s behaviour works as a trigger for Beth to ask these questions and keep them in her head forever. At this moment, it becomes more evident how each of the games serves her as a catharsis. With these games, Beth can unload all her fears and insecurities.

Something peculiar is how the series touches on delicate topics, such as addictions, abandonment, and death. In reality, the series never pretends to be a tragedy. Thus, it is not that this is being taken superficially, but that they do not take it to its last consequences to maintain an optimistic arc. This is the general tone of the series: one that excites you and not one that depresses you.

From children’s games to adult games

Now, it is important to highlight how wonderful the subject of sexuality was treated, especially in the scenes of Beth’s childhood. We often forget that curiosity about sex begins to exist from a very young age. Our review finds that the way it is treated in The Queen’s Gambit, through a girl of only nine years old, is very well achieved.

Besides the fact that this topic evolves as Beth grows, it also addresses issues of sexuality, desire, and love. It is very important to note that the actress who played Beth in her child version, Johnston Island, did it fantastically.

The creators had a monumental task by showing different games in each episode without losing the rhythm and strength. In particular, it seems to me that they managed to solve it elegantly. Although sometimes it can get boring to watch so many chess games in one episode, the truth is that they do manage to keep the attention in most of them.

Something stunning was the use and treatment of ellipsis and time jumps, not only between years but also between days. This shows that they knew well what must be shown to avoid plot holes; In this way, the story managed to flow gracefully and naturally.

The most powerful piece on the board

Another important point to highlight is that the series is addressing the issue of a girl in the middle of a manly activity. The way they treat feminism in this miniseries is perfect. In fact, the character does not like that articles written about her always highlights the fact that she is the only woman. She considers that this is not her most relevant attribute or merit.

She doesn’t want labels, she wants to be the best at what she does, and that is exactly where we should aim. Stop thinking only as a woman in a sea of men, because it is not only about a woman standing out, but a human being.

Emotions in every movement

Finally, in our review, The Queen’s Gambit is a charming and exciting series, with a very tasteful production. The production reflects the Cold War era, both in spaces and in the clothing that elegantly evolves into Beth.

If we see it well, the white and black board is only the space for our protagonist to display her most intimate fears and emotions. Then we, as spectators, have the joy of witnessing her plays in the front row.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 10/10


Thank you for reading our review of The Queen’s Gambit. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Read more of our Netflix reviews HERE.

Read IMDB information about The Queen’s Gambit HERE.

The Queen’s Gambit is streaming now on Netflix.

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The Good, The Bad And The Classic

Sarah Casserley

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Star From Disney Plus

Disney Plus Star image
Disney Plus

Disney Plus introduced Star to the service a little while ago now with loads of highlights. We’re sure, like us, you’ve had a good old delve into the catalogue and watched some of your faves. But, just in case you’ve missed anything, we have put together a little guide on what’s good to get stuck into. Also what’s bad and could do with being swiped past, and the classic must-see TV series and films that you probably didn’t even realise were there.

So, when you find yourself looking for something to watch on a Friday evening or binge for a couple of weeks, don’t scroll endlessly, just take a look at our guide of Disney Plus Star recommendations.


The Good

These are the films and series that have been released within the last 10 years, which you need to watch or should at least be on your ‘to watch’ list.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Atlanta (2016 – Present)

If you haven’t watched this series yet, why not? The creative and talented Donald Glover heads up the show as the main character ‘Earn’, and on the writing credits too (among 6 others, including his brother Stephen Glover), in this funny, gritty and realistic series which follows a rapper ‘Paper Boy’ and his manager Earn (Glover) as they navigate the rap business. If you have watched the show before, you may want to re-watch for a recap as season 3 has been promised to us very soon.

9-1-1 (2018 – Present)

This isn’t just any emergency service drama, this series covers the lives of several Los Angeles first responders: police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and dispatchers. It also has some big names involved, including Angela Bassett and, later in the series, Jennifer Love Hewitt. For some reason though, there’s only two of the four seasons of 9-1-1 on Disney Plus Star so far, but it’s well worth a watch and we’re sure the other two seasons should be along soon.

Doll Face (2019 – Present)

By the title alone, and the fact that it’s a weekly release, it initially looked like this series was set around a stereotypical break up and was destined for the bad list. However, the witty script, amazing female actors and relatable storyline made me put this series firmly within the good pile as I can’t wait to watch more. Kat Dennings takes the lead in the series and really brings to life upcoming writer Jordan Weiss’ story of female friendships after a breakup.

Films on Disney Plus Star

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

This beautiful coming of age story, based on a book with the same name, is a great watch for all ages, not just teens. Be ready for oodles of romance, as well as teary and heart-warming moments, as you follow two teens affected by cancer as they set off on a journey of discovery.

The Favourite (2018)

We love a period drama, and this quirky look at the reign of Queen Anne is no exception. With starring roles from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, it’s no wonder The Favourite had 336 nominations in award season and 182 wins. It’s definitely one of the best films from the last 5 years on Disney Plus Star.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

There are some examples coming up in these lists that give sequels a bad name, however, Deadpool 2 isn’t one of them. If you were putting off watching this one because of the sequel curse, don’t, it’s just as good – if not better – than the first. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is back as the foul-mouthed superhero and, this time, he brings some new friends: Domino (Zazie Beetz), Fire Fist (Julian Dennison) and Weasel (T.J. Miller) among others.


The Bad

There’s not as many on this ‘bad’ list as Star has done a pretty good job with their chosen titles. However, like any service, there are always a few bad eggs in our opinion… This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch these, it’s more of a warning that there may be better things to press play on.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Lost (2004 – 2010)

To be completely honest here, the first two seasons of Lost are very entertaining and interesting to watch, as you follow several people who try to survive a plane crash and have to adapt to life on a strange island. But, by the middle of season three, things start to get a little confusing and we found ourselves getting lost (pun intended) in the plot until the final sixth season, only to be hit with a heavily reported disappointing end… even worse than some people’s feelings about Game Of Thrones. So, we recommendation delving into some of the other series rather than this one.

24: Legacy (2017)

Trying to build another series from an established series can be very hit or miss – and this one was a huge miss. So much so that Fox axed it just after one series.

It takes on the same format as the original 24 series, where one season is just one day, however, this time they are trying to stop a terrorist attack. The format just doesn’t work with this storyline and you lose a lot of momentum and excitement, plus the acting just isn’t the best.

Films on Disney Plus Star

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Just like building another series off a series, sequels can also be tricky beasts… some are good, some are bad and, when it follows an absolute classic like ‘Independence Day’, it needs to be amazing. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite live up to the legacy of the first film; I mean, not even ‘Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth couldn’t get this to match up with the original. But it is still entertaining, so if you do decide to watch this one, just do so with caution.


The Classic

As you have probably already noticed there are some absolute classics on Disney Plus Star, so this is going to be the longest list, full of series that you can binge from start to finish and films that stand the test of time and can be re-watched repeatedly. Most of these titles don’t need much explanation as you’ll have already watched or heard about them, but you might not have spotted them yet on Disney Plus Star as some were buried deep in the archives.

Series on Disney Plus Star

X Files (1993 – 2001)

If you were born in the 90s or 00s, this one may have gone under your radar; however, once you watch the first season full of aliens, wired going ons and the brilliantly disjointed relationship of FBI agents, conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder and realist Dana Scully, you won’t want to stop watching. Granted some of the special effects are a little dated and unbelievable, but you will soon forget about that as you get sucked into the narrative.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2002)

I know, I know, it’s hard to think there are people out there that haven’t watched a single vampire slaying, kick-ass, sci-fi loaded episode… but there is. If you are one of those people, what are you waiting for? Every single episode is here wating for you to binge. If you don’t fancy delving into the full thing, I would recommend at least taking a peek at the seventh episode of the sixth series (Once More, with Feeling: Buffy the Musical).

24 (2001 – 2014)

Before Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) burst on our screens in 2001, this kind of format for a series had never been attempted before and it just worked, so much so it ran for 9 seasons. It may seem odd at first, as each series is just one day, but you really do get sucked in.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – 2018)

Within its almost 13 years of being on air, this series has offered every heart-warming and breath-holding moment you need from a hospital-based drama. This would be a perfect series to start if you want something that will last you a while.

Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014)

Bikes, leather and action: what’s not to like? This series ran for a glorious 7 seasons, and within these episodes, there is storyline upon storyline that will keep you hooked and wanting to know more about the motorcycle club that straddles the line between legal and illegal.

Films on Disney Plus Star

(We’re pretty sure you will have watched most of these films, but they are well worth a re-watch)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

The film that started them all. Since the release of this film in 1968, there have been seven more sequels and remakes of the original sci-fi movie, two of which you can also watch on Disney Plus Star: Planet Of the Apes (2001) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).

Jewel of the Nile (1985)

It could possibly be that the countless TV showings over the have passed you by, but if you’ve not seen Jewel of the Nile, you should definitely give it a go. Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito are fantastic in this pure 80s romantic action comedy.

Cocktail (1988)

Sticking within the 80s romantic comedy realm, you’ve also got Cocktail, which is full of love ultimatums, with a dash of cheese. Come on, you know you want to watch a young Tom Cruise at work.

The Fly (1986)

One name – Jeff Goldblum. Watch it.

Pretty Woman (1990)

We were just as excited as the first time we watched it when we saw this classic on the service. To not watch this again would be a big mistake. HUGE.

Toys (1992)

This wonderfully wacky story by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson comes alive with the help of one of the best comedic actors of all time, Robin Williams, alongside the wonderful Joan Cusack and, bizarrely, LL Cool J.

What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993)

Whether you love Tina Turner’s music or not, it does not matter. This is one of the most interesting and inspirational biographical movies that you will ever watch. Word of warning, the incredible Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne are so great at their roles that some of the more sensitive scenes are very realistic.

Braveheart (1995)

With any new service, there are glitches, and we found one! Whilst watching this absolute classic a few weeks ago, about two and a half hours into the film the screen when to the small screen format as if the credits had come up, making it difficult to watch the last part of the film. However, when we went to finish the film off a week later the glitch had been fixed and you can now watch the whole film without interruption… FREEDOM!

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

We all know that when it comes to film, Baz Luhrmann is a genius and he doesn’t disappoint with this abstract take on the story. It’s worth watching for the soundtrack alone.

Independence Day (1996)

90s Will Smith doing what he did best: lots of running, fighting and shouting – need I say more? Oh yes, you can also watch another one of his masterpieces, Enemy of the State (1998) on this service too.

Con Air (1997)

‘Put the bunny back in the box’ and sit down and watch this classic… we all know Nicholas Cage films can be a little unpredictable, but this film is definitely a hit, especially as he is joined by other legends of the screen, including John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, John Cusack and Ving Rhames.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Well if it’s at our fingertips, why not watch this film for the 56th time… this year.


So, there you have it, these are some of our highlights and must-miss titles from Disney Plus Star. Are there any that we missed? If so, comment below and let us know what category they belong in.


Check out the top 10 hidden gems in the other Disney Plus feeds HERE.

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