18 December 2017 | breheneyjames
Not quite a Royal Flush but a high full house
'Molly's Game' is written and directed by esteemed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin of whom it is the directorial debut. It is adapted from the book of the same name by Molly Bloom herself. The film stars Jessica Chastain as the eponymous character in a commanding performance which keeps the audience hooked when the story itself fails to do so. Idris Elba plays Molly's lawyer in another good performance to add to his collection. The story is about Molly who was once an Olympic-hopeful skier who got sidelined due to injury which is shown in an engaging opening scene accompanied by her voice over. After to this she moves to LA and after a brief stint as a cocktail waitress ends up working as an assistant at a high stakes poker game featuring Hollywood stars, business moguls and unknowingly the Russian mob. When her boss refuses to pay her because she is making some much in tips she strikes out on her own and moves the game to a new location making sure to alert all the regular players of where to show up in the process. She also has a game set up in NYC and runs them both at the same time.
Of course this after we watch her being arrested by armed FBI agents in the middle of the night in an earlier scene. Sorkin does this throughout the movie intertwining events before and after she was taken in. It was works for the most part however it does slow down the pace at times when the audience gets invested in Molly's activities before her arrest (running the poker games) and then Sorkin suddenly cuts to events after which are far less attention grabbing (her legal trouble). I will say though that these less intriguing scenes are made more watchable by Chastain and Elba's performances. They are both really good in this movie and two of the strongest parts of 'Molly's Game'. There are a few other noteworthy performances as well namely Kevin Costner as Molly's father, Michael Cera as Player X (apparently based on Tobey Maguire!) and Chris O'Dowd as another one of the poker players. The other major strength of the movie is the script which is full of wit which one has come to expect from Sorkin. This gives Chastain a lot of ammunition to shine and she uses it brilliantly.
The constant voice over does get a little distracting quite often especially when filled with Sorkin's signature choc-a-bloc style dialogue. Thought again it less irritating due to Chastain's fine performance of it. I will also add that the direction is a tad undeveloped but then again this is Sorkin's debut so I'm sure he can only improve from here on out. Despite this though he does use some nice techniques to make high stakes hands of poker more exciting to watch. Overall this a decent directorial debut for Sorkin and one that will hopefully lead to better films from him in the future.