The Queen’s Gambit: One character nearly killed all believability

THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT (L to R) THOMAS BRODIE-SANGSTER as BENNY and ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as BETH HARMON in episode 105 of THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT Cr. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020
THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT (L to R) THOMAS BRODIE-SANGSTER as BENNY and ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as BETH HARMON in episode 105 of THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT Cr. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020 /
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A single character nearly destroyed all believability of The Queen’s Gambit

Look, we all loved The Queen’s Gambit. Anya Taylor-Joy was amazing. Her transformation from shy, mistreated orphan into chess master was astounding. Furthermore, her struggle with dependency was entirely believable. It’s amazing her character Beth Harmon didn’t OD before making it to Russia.

One character, however, nearly ruined the entire series. The Queen’s Gambit is about chess after all, and it’s not exactly where all the cool kids hang out. And that’s why Thomas Brodie-Sangster nearly ruined the entire series.

Enough with the miscasting

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I’m not quite sure where it all started, but in the mid-80s there was this bean pole named Keith Gordon who was laughably cast as the leading man in multiple movies despite looking like a discount, backup vampire from a bootleg version of The Lost Boys (The Disoriented Dudes?). He was the loaner with the car in Christine, and less menacing than a mouse with cotton slippers. The Legend of Billie Jean followed, and the gorgeous Helen Slater was likely forever scarred after being paired as his lover. Finally, there was Back to School, and it took a mental Triple Lindy to believe Gordon could beat up William Zabka.

A decade and a half later DJ Qualls slipped into far too many roles, particularly when he was fighting people in The New Guy. Thankfully that experiment was short-lived.

Which brings us to Sangster. If this were a fictional film in 2020, then maaaaybe he’s not a guy who gets stuffed in a locker or a trash can. But during the mid-80s Cold War era, he’s definitely not going to possess the kind of confidence he exuded in The Queen’s Gambit. The fact this is a chess movie makes it even less likely. More realistically he would have been terrified and would have probably soiled himself if a girl who looks like Anya Taylor-Joy talked to him.

The outfit has to go

One other obviously distracting aspect of The Queen’s Gambit is Sangster’s outfit. Every time he is on screen with that ridiculous trench coat is visual herpes. Easily one of the most off-putting wardrobe choices of all time, and only someone with NBA-player swag could feel comfortable wearing such an outfit. Add in the pipe cleaner arms and Joe Dirt facial hair, and there absolutely needed to be at least two scenes in The Queen’s Gambit where he breaks down in tears.

At no time whatsoever is the leather-clad cowboy routine believable. And the knife thing is beyond stupid. Just because he was in Game of Thrones doesn’t mean he should have been given any latitude with creative content.

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Long story short, The Queen’s Gambit was thoroughly enjoyable, but Thomas Brodie-Sangster siphoned credibility out of nearly every scene in which he mistakenly appeared.

The Queen’s Gambit is now streaming on Netflix.