Movie Review: Molly's Game
Molly’s Game, the directorial debut for screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, has finally obtained a wide release after having a limited release on Christmas Day. Also written by Sorkin, the film follows the life of Molly Bloom, who ends up running some of the most elite underground poker games after her stint as a professional athlete. The film stars Jessica Chastain as the titular character, Molly Bloom, with Idris Elba portraying her lawyer, Charlie Jaffey. The supporting cast also includes Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd, and Bill Camp.
The film begins with a short introduction of Molly Bloom’s accident at the Olympic qualifiers for women’s skiers. After the incident, Bloom moves out to Los Angeles to have a year to gather herself before attending law school. She works numerous jobs, and in the process, ends up helping her boss with running his high stakes poker game. In this realm she finds herself face to face with some of the most powerful players in business and Hollywood. When her job is threatened, she takes her poker knowledge and business prowess to establish her own underground poker games. The film follows the events that lead to her arrest in 2013 and the subsequent court case that follows.
I am personally a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing, and I was beyond excited to see his first turn as director. He does a superb job with this film, and it embodies everything a Sorkin film normally does. With a strong lead character, quippy dialogue, and complex relationships, Molly’s Game is one exciting film. The use of voiceover is not always an aspect in film that I enjoy, but Chastain’s narration over certain parts of Bloom’s life enhances what is happening on screen. Also, the cuts between different portions of Bloom’s life helps explain her motivations and decisions at pivotal moments. To Sorkin’s credit, he also helped me to understand some of the ins and outs of poker, which is a true accomplishment when I had no prior knowledge before sitting in my theater seat.
While the story moves quickly and throws a lot of information out, part of the reason the film works so well is the casting of Jessica Chastain. Chastain has earned herself some recognition by playing strong female characters, and she continues that tradition here. She perfectly embodies the determination and ambition of this character while also showing her vulnerabilities. The casting of Idris Elba was also an inspired choice as Bloom’s lawyer, and I love how his perception of Bloom’s character changes throughout the course of the story. The two of them together in any scene is a highlight, and their chemistry was truly great. Also, Kevin Costner is pretty fantastic in any role, and while he is not necessarily the most likable person in this movie, his performance is still top notch.
For those who enjoy Sorkin’s style of writing and have enjoyed his previous films like Moneyball and The Social Network, then this is a film you should prioritize seeing. Molly’s Game immerses you in the world of underground poker as well as the immensely tough world of professional athleticism. It takes you on a journey with Molly as she faces her past decisions and grapples with where the future is taking her. There are a few scenes that felt a little long, but Sorkin is known for his lengthier pieces of dialogue. Also, while this film is fairly entertaining and enjoyable, it is definitely not for the whole family. Between the racy outfits, language, and overall atmosphere, the film earns its R rating. However, the journey of this amazingly tough woman makes Molly’s Game worth the watch.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.