Saturday, January 20, 2018

'Molly's Game' Is a Winning Hand for First Time Director Aaron Sorkin

Molly’s Game is a biopic based on the autobiography Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker.  It tells the true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a former Olympic hopeful in skiing who decides to take a year off before going into law school and moves to Los Angeles.  But she never gets around going to law school as she finds herself organizing exclusive, high-stakes poker games for Hollywood celebrities (including Macaulay Culkin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Ben Afleck; a composite character of these actors named “Player X” is played in the film by Michael Cera), businessmen, and other members of the elite for the next eight years.  She later moves her business to New York, where she operates for two years, in which, unbeknownst to her, Russian mobsters become part of her clientele.  When she’s indicted, she enlists the help of lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) to fight off the charges.

I’m somewhat of a fan of poker.  Well, I haven’t personally played real poker, but I used to be into online poker video games like Texas HoldEm Poker in Facebook, and I sometimes watch televised poker tournaments.  So I was first interested about Molly’s Game because I thought Jessica Chastain was playing a highly talented poker player.  However, it turned out the movie wasn’t focused on the playing of poker per se, but the revealing of an intriguing world of behind-closed-doors, high-end poker games.  Nonetheless, I wasn’t disappointed, for the story is very fascinating.  In addition, there’s at least this one noteworthy poker game scene involving a legit, calculating, prudent poker player that snapped after getting beaten by a notoriously inept, chronically-losing opponent.
Molly’s Game is written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who is known for writing striking monologues and dialogues.  His script for this film is thoroughly riveting.  It’s basically people talking and talking and talking, and narration is even involved in the narrative, but it never gets boring.  Furthermore, this is also Sorkin’s directorial debut, and he helmed this film as if he’s a veteran.

The performances also need to be praised, especially from Chastain and Elba.  Their excellent line delivery made Sorkin’s words fly off with compelling potency.  There’s this scene where Elba delivers a powerful monologue that made me forgive his unfortunate participation in The Dark Tower.

Overall, I enjoyed Molly’s Game.  It’s not necessarily a royal flush, but it’s still a winning hand – a four of a kind, at least.

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