Molly’s Game (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Molly’s Game</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, October 2018) So… Jessica Chastain as the lead in an Aaron Sorkin film? You definitely have my attention. But Molly’s Game goes many steps further in giving us a real-life story of poker, Hollywood, organized crime, Idris Elba, a brainy leggy heroine and a two-hour stream of patented Sorkin dialogue. A fascinating example of an adaptation that goes further than the source material, this film not only adapts the content of Molly Bloom’s story as published in the original Molly’s Game, but updates it through a framing device taking place after the book’s publication. The fascination here is evenly distributed between Sorkin’s usual brand of rapid-fire witty dialogue, Molly Bloom’s extraordinary personality and Chastain’s uncanny ability to inhabit the role. It’s a great match between actress and subject, as the attractive Chastain gets to play a ferociously smart character who turns to the legally dubious side in order to make a living. Her conceit is simple enough: take care of all the necessary arrangements for wealthy poker players to have their regular games. It’s not entirely legal, certainly not completely safe, and much of the film’s interest is in detailing all the precautions she has to take in order to attract and retain the high-rollers while protecting herself. Michael Cera plays against type as a slimy Hollywood actor (reportedly Tobey Maguire) who ends up becoming one of Molly’s worst opponents, while Elba is his usual charismatic self as a high-powered lawyer. Sorkin also has fun directing his own script, fully getting into his heroine’s mind and history. (Kevin Costner pops up for a few scenes as her father, and gets a great scene in which he fast-forwards through years of therapy with his immensely intelligent daughter.) At 140 minutes, Molly’s Game is not a short movie, but it is seldom less than engrossing thanks to its script, directors and multiple subject matters. It’s thoroughly entertaining, and a strong demonstration of what Sorkin and Chastain can do at their best.

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