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The Queen's Gambit | 2020's Best Mini-series | Stream or Skip

I'm typically drawn to series with a distinct style, and Netflix's new limited series The Queen's Gambit delivers. This isn't your typical cookie-cutter series Netflix original. The performances were solid, the production design is highly detailed with colouring and cinematography on par with theatrical film quality.

I had already set intentions on watching the series when it dropped but unsure of what to expect. After the first 15 minutes, I was instantly gripped and pulled into the world of the show. The series was so well crafted and intriguing, that it reminded me of classic story narratives that's been lacking in today's entertainment.

Personally, Netflix currently hasn't had the best track record with their new releases recently, and this series about the world's oldest board game managed to redeem itself.

Raised by a dysfunctional single mother, Elizabeth becomes orphaned at a young age of nine, to only be placed in an equally dysfunctional environment. Finding salvation in the secluded basement, her fascination and intrigue are heightened when she discovers the janitor playing chess in his quarters. Elizabeth quickly outgrows her mentor and with her brilliant and blunt personality, and is determined to compete at the master-level world tournament.

The cinematography was on par with big-budget films and reflected the era, atmosphere, and character motifs perfectly. There were long scenes of little to no dialogue that had me absolutely engaged in a time where pacing in the entertainment world is getting quicker and quicker.

Great series does this through the camera and great performances. The Queen's Gambit does this flawlessly. It doesn't show everything through words, the character's body language speaks more, making the entirety of the series feel more real.

The scenes of chess matches were heart-pounding thrillers. When they talk about the games' analyses, you can feel the drama of how deep, complicated, and nerve-wracking a chess match can be.

The performances were so believable, I almost forgot that the actors had to learn all the moves for the various amount of scenes. There was little editing when it came to these sequences, and I could not imagine the rehearsal process, especially for speed chess which seems more complicated and gruelling than an action packed fight scene. The sheer number of moves that had to be learned is truly astounding.

I always believed Ana Taylor Joy is my generation's next top-tier actress, and someone I've been following along for a while with films like Thoroughbreds and one of my absolute favourites The VVitch. It's been a while since I've seen Thomas Brodie Sangster back on the screen and it was an absolute joy to watch.

So why is this series so successfully executed?

Yes, great cinematography and performances like I mentioned, but underneath all those layers is the script. The series is incredibly well written and played out. Each scene has a purpose something in today's entertainment is blatantly disregarded. This is an excellent well-told story, with a conclusive beginning, arc, and satisfying conclusion. It was absolutely refreshing to have an original story so well executed from start to finish.

The Queens Gambit is the perfect balance of quality production, narrative, and performances. It's a refreshing watch and could possibly be my favorite new limited series release of 2020. I can't recommend this series enough, it was thrilling, intriguing and I never thought watching a character push around wooden blocks on a board in silence would be so incredibly entertaining.


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