Molly’s Game Review

The Plot

The true story of Molly Bloom an Olympic class skier who launched a multi-million dollar empire running the world’s most exclusive high stakes poker games, only to become the target of an FBI investigation.

The Good

Aaron Sorkin has spent years garnering acclaim and respect as one of Hollywood’s most distinctive and compelling screenwriters. Finally making an effortless transition to directing as well, he bring his own well-polished script to life with considerable style and technical skill. He has clearly learnt well from the long list of talent directors who have lined up to work on his brilliantly fast paced and intelligent material.

In particular Sorkin has developed a reputation for dealing well with the unique challenge of transforming biopics of famous figures into entertaining big screen experiences. In the past the one criticism made of his well-crafted scripts for The Social network or Steve Jobs has been the liberal use of fiction in retelling supposed autobiographical material. With Molly’s Game Sorkin offer more of a conventional narrative, relying a little less on copious poetic licence. Molly Bloom’s reluctant attorney may be an invention of Sorkin’s imagination, but the core facts of her remarkable story remain true to life.

Sorkin always writes with a uniquely dense and rapid fire dialogue, thankfully leads Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba are fully capable of handling the demands of the script, delivering brisk and compelling results. Elba lends some gruff gravitas to Molly’s sceptical attorney, providing a useful narrative vehicle for audiences making their own discovery of Molly’s extraordinary journey. However the lion’s share of praise must deservedly go to lead actress Jessica Chastain, her emphatic narration and nuanced performance gives Molly Bloom far more dimension and depth than the easy stereotypes Hollywood could so easily have made her.

The Bad

While Molly’s Game starts with a relentless pace the film does lose some of that exciting momentum as it moves through a lengthy two hour twenty minutes run time. Even armed with Aaron Sorkin’s bristling dialogue it’s difficult to inject sufficient suspense to carry the story through its final third. In truth stories such as Molly Bloom’s do traditionally struggle during a final act where they must seemingly choose between whether to be cautionary tales or statements of defiant celebration.

Although Jessica Chastain and the rest of the supporting cast are all well-chosen fits they can’t entirely obscure the fact that beneath a heavy layer of glitz and glamour Molly’s story is often actually easily predictable and lacking in the kind of sensational twists that pure fiction so readily supplies.

The Ugly Truth

Molly’s Game is an accomplished directing debut for Aaron Sorkin and showcases a truly masterful performance from Jessica Chastain. The film delves into a lot of familiar Hollywood territory but does so armed with a smart script that mostly voids clichés and offers plenty of entertainment.

Review by Russell Nelson

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