2018 is here and the first new release of the year is Molly’s Game, A film that I had been mildly anticipating ever since I heard of the premise and found out who was leading the cast.
This film depicts the true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), an Olympic-class skier who after a series of unique events, ended up running the world’s most exclusive high stakes poker games and then became a target for the FBI.
Just a couple of minutes into this film I was immediately reminded of the fast paced sharp dialogue of The Social Network, and at that point I thought to myself “of course, this film is written by Aaron Sorkin”. The other slight difference here is that he also directed the film, and this is a bold and confident first directorial effort. As expected Aaron’s writing is great. It’s the type of writing that’ll make a conversation between two people gripping, I remained consistently enthralled through out due to the excellent writing. Narration is used quite heavily in the script, but it never felt cheap or as quick way to tell the audience information, instead of expressing it through the scenes itself, it was used effectively to run alongside what we were seeing and to add a little more depth to the overall structure of the narrative. The direction was just as sharp as the writing, it’s a very good looking film, in fact it looks as well put together as the games that Molly was running herself.
The structure of the film starts with the later aspects of this story, we see Bloom trying to find an attorney to defend herself against the charges she is faced with. Then it begins to bounce back and forth between these events, and the retelling of the events that led up to that point. So what we get is scenes of her trying to identify the appropriate way to be defended in court, cut in amongst scenes of her narrating what occurred in her life prior to that with the Poker games, that put her in this predicament with the legal trouble. Sorkin’s writing and direction made both parts of the story deeply engaging.
The film is led by electrifying award worthy performances from Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom and Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey. Jessica conveys the rise of confidence that Molly had, as well as her respectful demeanour and sophistication in a very understated manner. When scenes occur that call upon Jessica to show raw emotion such fear, anger and disappointment she conveys it all with ease. It’s such a terrific well rounded performance. Idris’ performance as her lawyer, is a powerful one. He commands the screen whenever he is on it, but in a way that doesn’t take away from Jessica’s performance. He brilliantly showcases his conflict of emotions as he tries to uncover as much as possible, so he can help Molly with the charges made against her. Some of the best moments in the entire film, are moments with Molly and Charlie sat in a room having a heated and emotionally charged conversation. Kevin Costner appears as Larry Bloom, Molly’s dad and he was great, Larry has pushed Molly to the roof of her limits ever since a young age. That would lead you to believe that he just wants the best for his daughter, but you discover that there is more to it than just that, and Kevin greatly depicts a strict and stubborn father, who also harbours guilt.
The poker scenes were very entertaining, the film doesn’t dive too deep into the games them self and when it briefly does the script and the visuals do a good job of highlighting what’s going on. So even if you know very little about Poker, you will still be able to get an idea of what’s going on. A number of actors appear as the poker players, Michael Cera shows up as one of them and he was great, he suited the role very well.
Clocking in at two hours and twenty minutes, the film is too long and could’ve done with having at least twenty minutes shaved off the run time. The pace is mostly good through out, but there were a couple times where I did start to focus on the length of certain scenes.
Molly’s Game is fantastic. It’s led by electrifying award worthy performances from Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, and Aaron Sorkin’s sharp writing and direction makes for a deeply engaging experience.
(4 Stars Out of 5)
–Molly’s Game – Starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner and Michael Cera.
Directed by Aaron Sorkin.
In U.K. Cinemas now.