Written and Directed by: Aaron Sorkin *based on the memoir by Molly Bloom
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd, Michael Cera, Joe Keery, Rachel Skarsten and Graham Greene
Run Time: 2h 20min
Genre: Biography, Drama
3 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Molly’s Game is an incredibly intelligent film. It’s the true story of an Olympic-class skier, Molly Bloom (Chastain) who, much to the chagrin of her father, Larry (Costner), who wanted her to be a lawyer, ended up running an exclusive high-stakes poker game and eventually needing a lawyer herself. That lawyer is Charlie Jaffey (Elba), one of the best in the area. Before I get any further into the story, I’ll tell you more about the performances of Elba and Chastain. First of all, the chemistry between them is palpable; very strong. They’re totally in sync with one another and they absolutely must work together more often. Once audiences see this movie, they’ll agree and demand it. Jaffey is a criminal defense lawyer who agrees to work for her, on credit, essentially. After some pleading and reasoning, just short of begging, on her part and after he sees how she has been rooked, she convinces him to do what’s right for someone other than himself and his bank account.
She was a game runner in L.A. and N.Y. and was very successful. At her tables sat art dealers, rappers, politicians, Hollywood elite and unbeknownst to her, Russian mobsters and the FBI. After being incredibly safe, or so she thought, controlling everything that went on at her tables, she gets caught. The girls she hired to bring in clients, a job she first had before going on her own, were always professional and she stayed close to the clients but never mixed business with pleasure. Regardless, she awakens to a phone call in the middle of the night. The FBI is at the door with a warrant for her arrest.
The movie starts with her explaining how many times she has beaten the odds. After getting to know her, you begin to explore the idea that this time she hasn’t. However, as the story progresses, you’re sure her luck will pull her through. The saying isn’t Lady Luck for no reason, right? As I say that, I’ll add that what’s glorious about the script is as soon as you’re sure all will work out for her, again, something happens that has you doubting it. No matter, you’re rooting for her to come out on top but Jessica Chastain always has a way to pull you into the characters she portrays. Even with the fact that Molly could be technically breaking the law, you are still on her side. You’re hoping Jaffey will find a loophole in the system that will have her safe and sound.
Molly wanted to go to law school as much as her father did but chose to follow a path of getting out of the house and getting rich fast instead. In the beginning, when she’s getting into poker, she doesn’t think she’s breaking the law. She’s running games only for tips and not taking a percentage, which is where the law is broken, but when she gets paranoid, things change fast and the more her games bring in, the more people want a piece of it and of her. It’s through reading her memoirs and hearing the rest of the story, such as how deep she was into the Russian mob, that Jaffey decides he must prove her innocence… even despite his client. For the first time in her life, someone doesn’t want a piece of her. Jaffey believes in and sees her as a person worth saving. How does she see herself?
‘Molly’s Game’ is fast-paced, thrilling and turns the game of Texas Hold ‘Em into something to be envied. The dialogue intricately explains the game and by the time you’re done watching the movie, you’re practically ready to head to Vegas. Check this movie out as soon as you can. The acting is fantastic, the script is Oscar worthy and, as I’ve made clear, it’s virtually impossible to lose interest. As the story progresses, you believe the good luck that has always followed her terribly bad luck, will pull her through any situation but as soon as you’re certain, more bad luck befalls her. It’s maddening but a good time. After watching it, you might feel compelled to Google Molly Bloom and see who the real players are.
Alan Sorkin, known more for writing ‘Jobs’, ‘The American President’ and ‘A Few Good Men’ and producing such titles as ‘The Newsroom’ and ‘The West Wing’ makes his directorial debut with this film and treats the story right by giving you the complete story, leaving no stone unturned. You’ll agree that from now on, Sorkin should always direct what he has written instead of putting others in charge of something he’s clearly capable of doing himself.