Title – Molly’s Game (2017)
Director – Aaron Sorkin (feature debut)
Cast – Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd
Plot – The true story of pro-skier turned high stakes poker game organiser Molly Bloom (Chastain) who rose from obscurity to become one of the most infamous figures in American culture after becoming an FBI target due to her high-profile contacts and poker events.
“You know what makes you feel okay about losing? Winning”
Review by Eddie on 20/08/2018
Hopes were high for Molly’s Game, the directional debut of famed screenwriter/playwright Aaron Sorkin and for good reason.
Based on the fascinating true story of American Molly Bloom, who went from Olympic class skier to high stakes poker coordinator/FBI target and very much a lady of the spotlight, Molly’s Game had all the elements lined up to suggest that Sorkin’s first foray behind the camera after many year’s collaborating with the best in the business would be the type of Oscar baiting biopic that was also a crowd pleasing good time.
Renowned for making the seemingly unexcitable exciting and accessible, court room battles (A Few Good Men), politics (TV series The West Wing), social media (The Social Network), baseball statistics (Moneyball), complicated public figures (Steve Jobs), Sorkin has made a career out of brilliantly realised dialogue and understanding of subject matters that have worked wonders when teamed with filmmaker’s like David Fincher or Danny Boyle but that magic is missing from Sorkin the director as Molly’s Game extensive runtime limps towards the two hour plus mark.
Sorkin’s examination of Bloom (whose played with an Oscar-baiting mannerism by Jessica Chastain) is a curiously cold experience as we’re thrust into an odd narrative structure of Bloom in her later life reflecting on her rise up the underground high-stakes poker scene to where she is now, battling a publicly scrutinised court case with the help of Idris Elba’s lawyer Charlie Jaffey and while Sorkin’s Oscar nominated script is fine within itself, it never truly unlocks the reasoning behind Bloom’s choices or characteristics and fails to engage on the emotional level Sorkin’s words usually end up unlocking.
Unlike his way with words, Sorkin also struggles to inject energy into his picture.
Film’s such as The Social Network and Moneyball managed to match Sorkin’s unique abilities as a screenwriter with imaginative and energetically infused direction but Sorkin fails to deliver that here as we proceed along Bloom’s journey from cash strapped ex-athlete to high rolling big timer and while you don’t exactly expect a film focussed on poker to induce white-knuckles, Molly’s Game feels like a rather generic offering from a writer who is anything but.
Final Say –
Molly’s Game isn’t irredeemably bad by a long stretch of the imagination but when a film such as this is led by such a powerful behind the scenes presence, you do expect a lot more. With moments of genius in its screenwriting, Molly’s Game will still please hard-core Sorkin acolytes but outside of this component, Molly’s Game deals a dud hand.
2 bags of bagels out of 5