Molly’s Game: Poker Power Play
Molly’s Game is based off the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic class skier who wound up in accident, and started running the world’s most exclusive, high-stakes poker game, attended by celebrities, and ended up becoming an FBI target. It’s a slick, well-produced film with a sharp script, and a terrific performance by Jessica Chastain. It makes for a solid directing debut for writer, Aaron Sorkin, and is one of the more interesting films about illegal gaming that I’ve seen.
Molly’s Game is a very slickly made movie, and has some really rich dialogue. Sorkin has been writing for so many years now that he basically has his own “Sorkinisms”, and Molly’s Game is full of them. From the start, there is Molly’s constant narration, witty banter, “Daddy issues”, and snarks at celebrity gossip, as well as, random literary references, for example, when Chris O'Dowd's character talks about James Joyce’s Ulysses, this film definitely feels like Sorkin wrote it, and for the most part, that’s actually one of its strengths. The film is sharply written, and never feels bogged down by anything.
The film’s performances are also of note. Sorkin has never directed before, so I’d be hard pressed to call him an actor's director, but if this film is anything to go by, then he knows how to direct actors very well. At the center of the film is Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Martian, The Help) as Molly Bloom. I don’t know who Molly Bloom is, as a real person. If this film is anything to go by, then she’s a very interesting individual. Chastain plays her as smart, and assured of herself. A women with a lot to lose, and has flashbacks of her father (played with sternness by Kevin Costner), because he wanted her to continue in her career as a profession skier, like her brother. If Chastain doesn’t get an Oscar nominee, that would be disappointing, as she delivers one of her best performances to date in this film.
Supporting her is Idris Elba (Star Trek Beyond, Avengers: Age of Ultron) as a defense lawyer named Charlie Jaffey, who helps her in her gambling case. Jaffey objects to Molly’s attitude. Elba is terrific in the role, and between this and Thor: Ragnarok, he’s been having a banner year. Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad) also shows up as Player X, who is apparently supposed to be an amalgamation of some of the celebrities who attended Molly’s poker games. In this case, a cross between Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio. Cera is low-key, understated, and good in the film playing a random role of a character who doesn’t exist outside of the game, as are the rest of the poker players, who are mostly played by unknowns.
The cinematography and background design of the film looks fairly colorful, and fits with Sorkin’s solid direction and screenwriting. I knew little about who Molly Bloom was before I saw this film, but after watching it, I really wanted to know more about her life story. That’s how fascinating and interesting the film is, and how well the actors brought her story to life. I highly recommend it.
Now playing in Hanover at The Nugget Theater: Monday-Thursday at 4:00 and 6:40 PM, and Friday - Sunday at 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15 PM.