Molly’s Game Review

Molly's Game International Poster #1

The Social Network. Moneyball. Steve Jobs. All of these great films have one common thread among them: Aaron Sorkin. For over 25 years, the Oscar-winning screenwriter has written scripts for some of Hollywood’s best directors. Now, it’s time for Sorkin to take the leap into filmmaking with his directorial debut, Molly’s Game. But is Sorkin ready to take the reigns as a director?

If Molly’s Game is any indication then he’ll do just fine as a writer and director. That’s because Molly’s Game is a captivating adaptation about the crazy life of Molly Bloom. Not to mention, Jessica Chastain provides us with an Oscar-worthy performance as well.

Molly’s Game follows Molly Bloom, a former Olympic skier whose life is changed forever when she gets into a skiing accident. After a few dead-end jobs, she finds her way to the world of high stakes poker. After becoming the queen of underground high stakes poker, she unwittingly becomes the target of the FBI.

Molly's Game - Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba

Although poker plays a big part in the film, one doesn’t need to be a poker nut in order to be hooked by Molly’s Game. Aaron Sorkin’s razor-sharp wit and dialogue does that for you. There’s just something about an Aaron Sorkin script that’s just so entertaining. He makes the complex strategy of poker easily digestible and fun to watch. That’s something that’s not easy to do, especially if you’ve inadvertently ever paid attention to an episode of “World Series of Poker”.

Also, he makes all of the legal jargon easy to understand too. Which, again, is not that easy to do. There are so many complicated themes that it’s a miracle Sorkin is able to weave these past and present events seamlessly without breaking the flow of the film.

Though there are times where Sorkin tries to emotionally manipulate us but fails to do so. This primarily comes from the father and daughter relationship. The father is a psychologist and when he gives Molly reasons why their relationship is so contentious, it’s a little too on the nose. It’s a story arc that feels out of place in comparison to the rest of the film.

Nevertheless, this is very impressive work coming from Sorkin’s directorial debut. Other first time directors don’t have the awareness to know when the pacing is off. They tend to make films longer than they should. However, there are only a few dull moments in this film. The film feels like a mixture of all the filmmakers that have directed his work. It’s not as stylistic as Fincher or Boyle’s work but the frenetic pace is there. Sorkin feels like a wily veteran filmmaker.

Molly's Game - Jessica Chastain

But what brings everything together is the vigorous performance by Jessica Chastain. As always, a Sorkin script seems to bring the best out of the actors delivering the lines. The same can be said of Chastain, who delivers her lines at a quick but steady pace. In addition, Chastain is at her best when her character puts on a strong front but is vulnerable on the inside. Molly Bloom is exactly that and because of that, she brings a nuanced array of emotions to the role.

Idris Elba also is excellent as Molly’s lawyer, Charlie Jaffey. Elba is adept at playing a self-righteous man with a heart of gold. Also, the verbal sparring between Elba and Chastain is magnificent. It’s both witty and dramatic. Other notable performances come from Michael Cera and Chris O’Dowd, who is hilarious as Molly’s poker clients.

Sadly, the same can’t be said of Kevin Costner. His character feels incredibly out-of-place and, at times, shoehorned into the film. Also, he doesn’t seem to get the best parts of Sorkin’s script.

Overall, Molly’s Game is another piece of enthralling work by Aaron Sorkin. But this is something we’ve come to expect from him. Surprisingly, he’s also very adept at directing as well. Of course, when your lead actors both give phenomenal performances then it makes your job a little bit easier. It’s a full house of incredible talent.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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