Review: Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin has a tendency for writing great, fast talking scripts based on subjects that I tend to know jack about. ‘Steve Jobs’ and ‘The Social Network’ were two films I really didn’t think I needed in my life and both were highlights of their respective years. Now, with his directorial debut, Sorkin may have delivered his best piece of cinema yet.

While Molly is pretty flawed morally speaking, you never stop rooting for her

‘Molly’s Game’ follows the true life exports of Molly Bloom who rose from the aftermath of a life altering event to become the leader of the world’s biggest underground poker empire and a target for the FBI. We see Molly’s life rise and fall before rising and falling over and over again. Jessica Chastain is absolutely terrific in the titular role (when isn’t she?) and manages to bring a certain vulnerability to her no nonsense character. While Molly is pretty flawed morally speaking, you never stop rooting for her and while Sorkin’s screenplay deserves recognition, Chastain’s performance makes the role.

That shouldn’t take away from strong performances across the board though. Idris Elba is great as Molly’s lawyer Charlie Jeffery and Michael Cera steals every scene he is in as the douchebag Player X. It’s a role so far away from anything he’s ever done before that I hope he manages to do more like this alongside his usual quirkier roles in indie films. Others like Chris O’Dowd, Jeremy Strong and Bill Camp only turn up for a handful of scenes but leave such an impact, whether it be as an irritating parasite or a sorry soul, you can’t help but be thinking of them long after the credits have rolled. ‘Molly’s Game’ is full of characters you can totally invest in and root for or against.

‘Molly’s Game’ is full of characters you can totally invest in and root for or against.

The film’s pace, as you’d expect from a Sorkin screenplay, is absolutely relentless. Right off the bat, the monologue accompanying the opening scene is managing to fit in more words per minute than you’d think was possible and from there, the monologues do not let up. Before we know it, we are already at the first poker game and even when we hit a scene with just Molly and Charlie talking about the FBI case, the dialogue keeps on coming without a break. It sounds exhausting but the film never loses your focus or veers too far into “poker talk” that you lose track of what’s happening. Also, the film clocks in at what seems like a pretty hefty 140 minutes, but it actually feels a lot shorter. It never overstays it’s welcome.

(The film) cements Jessica Chastain as the best actor working in cinema right now.

Is the films perfect? No. There’s a few too many scenes with Molly and her Dad that seem unnecessary, especially in the later half of the film. Kevin Costner delivers a speech so clichéd at the end it goes hand in hand with his sudden reappearance. He was a distraction that felt unnecessarily added for extra dramatic purposes in a film that didn’t need any help on that front. I could name a few more but I’d really be nit-picking because all in all, ‘Molly’s Game’ is a tremendous piece of work that kicked 2018 off with a bang and, in my opinion, cements Jessica Chastain as the best actor working in cinema right now.

9/10

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