The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.
‘Molly’s Game’ is a slick crime drama from Oscar winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, making his debut behind the camera on a feature film after numerous writing gigs (containing but not limited to, terrific films such as ‘The Social Network’, ‘Steve Jobs’ and ‘A Few Good Men’). Whether you like ‘Molly’s Game’ or not will be largely dependent on how you feel about Sorkin’s writing style in general; personally, I’m a big fan and this movie had me from the stylish opening sequence that introduces us to Molly Bloom, and who she is. The film is adapted from Bloom’s memoir, which tells the story of how a former competitive skier ended up running the biggest high stakes poker games in both Los Angeles and New York, which ultimately led to her arrest on racketeering charges.
It’s a fascinating story involving high stakes poker, the mafia and celebrities and Sorkin really sinks his teeth into the material, spinning it all into the compulsively entertaining movie that ‘Molly’s Game’ ultimately is. The world of high stakes poker is a very male driven environment and a lot of the film is interested in showing how Bloom managed to both survive in this environment whilst also using her femininity to gain an advantage, and Jessica Chastain is more than up to the challenge. She’s absolutely magnetic throughout, relishing the opportunity to play such a superb role with Sorkin’s dialogue, which actors must love getting to perform. Sorkin’s had problems in the past writing for female characters but there are no such issues here; this is Chastain and Bloom’s film and she’s a compelling lead in a film that entertains throughout.
The film primarily alternates between the past and present, framing the film around Bloom’s conversations with her lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), where she delves into the past to tell the story of how she ended up involved in charges relating to the Russian mob. Some of the scenes in the lawyer’s office feel a little overwritten, but this is Aaron Sorkin and lengthy dialogue scenes are his bread and butter so it’s what you come to expect, and Chastain and co-star Idris Elba make the most of the material. It’s probably a little long and whilst based on true events, I still found it hard to believe some of the decisions the central characters make, but when it zips with such dynamic energy it’s enough to overcome some of these shortcomings.
‘Molly’s Game’ is a terrifically entertaining movie that sizzles with energy through a combination of a sharply written script and a brilliant lead performance from Jessica Chastain, who in a male dominated environment, absolutely stands out.
Directed By: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, Chris O’Dowd, J. C. MacKenzie, Bill Camp, Graham Greene and Jeremy Strong