The Queen’s Gambit plays familiar moves with style and star power: Review

Phil Bray/Netflix

I like chess, I like ’60s fashion, and I like Anya Taylor-Joy. So I was a cheap date for The Queen’s Gambit, Netflix’s new seven-part miniseries streaming Friday. Taylor-Joy plays Beth Harmon, an outcast teen chess prodigy who becomes a grown-up celebrity chess casualty. Writer-director Scott Frank tracks her from a dingy orphanage cellar to globetrotting duels against Soviet supermen. It’s a stylish period piece with the rambling-years momentum of a John Irving novel. Luscious production design and a darkly fascinating lead performance duel against mawkish sentiment and a messy final act. It’s always fun to watch, even when it’s playing emotional checkers.

The series begins with Beth hungover and half-sunk into a bathtub. She’s in a palatial Paris hotel room; the place looks trashed. She gets dressed, notices someone in her bed, pops some pills, and races downstairs. Flashbulbs pop in her face. The whole world press is there, watching her play the Russian grandmaster Vasily Borgov (Marcin Dorocinski). They make a sharp contrast. He’s a stern middle-aged communist, somehow looming and invisible, followed everywhere by his KGB retinue of bodyguard-jailers. She’s glamorous, undone, afire, and lonely. It’s a great opening, rife with conflict: America, Russia, woman, man, youth, experience, druggy hedonism, rigid professionalism.

Alas, it is a prologue flash-forward, the hottest story idea of 2006. Queen’s Gambit kind of earns its backstep. The first episode circles to a younger Beth (Isla Johnston), shellshocked after her mother dies in a maybe suicidal car crash. She arrives at a midcentury Catholic orphanage. Those three words suggest nightmare possibilities, but here the abuse is all chemical. Orderlies stuff the kids full of state-mandated tranquilizers. Beth is getting high on Orphan’s Little Helper right as she discovers chess. Downstairs, somber janitor Mr. Shaibel (Bill Camp) plays solo matches on his ratty board. He starts teaching Beth the basics, and realizes he’s found a queen.

Every episode takes another step forward in Beth’s chess career, her coming of age, and her addiction spiral. It’s a familiar biopic trajectory, though the source material is a novel by Walter Tevis. Taylor-Joy is at her best playing Beth as a kid with a Vulcan-ish awkward confidence. She lets you see how the chessboard is an escape for a confused young person and a kind of religion, offering “an entire world of just 64 squares” to someone whose inner life is full of murky confusion.

Beth winds up adopted by the Wheatleys, a married couple whose heavily patterned house looks like the mausoleum of ’50s America. Dad Allston (Patrick Kennedy) is distantly busy. His wife, Alma (Marielle Heller), grieves a never-quite-explained loss by retreating into daylight drinking and perpetual television. When she realizes her adopted daughter has a lucrative chess habit, she sparks to life. Heller’s performance is astounding, a world-weary match for Taylor-Joy’s anxious curiosity. Alma becomes a supportive manager, yet there’s something overly vicarious in her interest. She’s being a good mother — and turning a teenager into her drinking

Boost Your Fashion Image Using Clever Moves

Fashion has the power to stop people in their tracks, thereby producing strong confidence and the reward of recognition. Boosting your image via clothing require creative self-expression and a passion for standing out from the crowd.

People of fashion are pathfinders for those who love looking good and showing the world the beauty of expression. If you desire to be such a person, consider the following tips designed to help you glamorize yourself in the sight of your family, friends, and strangers.

The Message

Before you go and purchase a giant wardrobe, you must know what message you want to portray in society. You must have an idea of what you want people to think about you. Do you want to convey a message of sophistication, coolness, intelligence or professionalism? Whatever image you desire to portray, you must organize your wardrobe around such a message.

Zero in on Specific Places

Where do you want to start establishing your fashion message? Your goal is to dress specifically to impress the people in these areas. For example,

The Workplace

Suppose you want to portray an image of professionalism at your workplace. You may not be a boss or even a supervisor. Yet, if you want to dress like one, you can begin with a nice blue or black suit and striped tie. You never know what can occur when you convey an image of professionalism. For one thing, your confidence will soar, and you just might be promoted.

The Community

Are you a popular person in your community? If not, you can become one by portraying the message of cool, calm and collected. You can throw on a pair of cool looking sunglasses, a pair of relaxed, baggy designer jeans and Adidas tennis shoes. For an accessory, you can wear a slick looking chain around your neck or fancy earrings if you are a woman.

Restaurants, libraries, grocery stores, parks in the summer, or community festivals are fair game to establish yourself as a person of fashion.

Special Occasions

Do you want to be the life of the party on any occasion? Then you will have to dress so that you will stand out from the crowd. Wearing something semi flamboyant? You will have to try to match the magnetism of the main attraction, whoever or whatever that may be.

You might want to wear bright solid color clothing. For example, you may dress down in a red or purple blouse and skirt or evening gown or a cocktail dress with accompanying jewelry and small money purse.

The list of special occasions, including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, festivals, annual attractions within the community.

Hang Around Fashion Minded People

You want to stay motivated to be the best-looking thing on the scene. How can you do this if you don’t hang around people who love fashion, even if competition for attention is intense? The good thing about competition is that it keeps you coming up with new and creative ways to self-expression via clothing …