Released: 25th January 2018 (Australia)
Seen: 1st February 2018
Directed & Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Produced by: STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers Pictures, Pascal Pictures, Mark Gordon & Entertainment One
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner & Michael Cera
Molly Bloom (Played by Jessica Chastain) was meant for something special, something great. From a very young age she was trained intensely by her father Larry (Played by Kevin Costner) to be a champion skier and it looked like she was going to be able to possibly make it to the Olympics when a rogue twig caused her to have an accident that would effectively end her skiing career. Determined to get back on her feet, Molly ended up taking a job as a secretary for a real estate agent and would eventually be told to work for his poker nights. This small game would eventually turn Molly into the leader of one of the biggest underground poker games in New York and, as is often the case in these kinds of stories, is arrested as part of a crackdown on a Russian mob and has to rely on her attorney Charlie Jaffey (Played by Idris Elba) to find a way to get her out with her good name still intact.
The hardest part about reviewing this movie, indeed the hardest part of reviewing a lot of movies I’ve seen so far this year, is finding ways of making “It’s really good” spread out for longer than a few hundred words because that is my honest assessment of this film. Performance wise, this is just a bunch of actors on top of their game. Jessica Chastain as Molly is just incredible, she pulls you in so you can witness her mind working on just how to get the best result out of the situation she’s thrown into. There is key information in Molly’s head that would keep her out of jail and it’s information she’s not willing to give up because she doesn’t want to destroy the lives of the people who came to her games, and Jessica conveys that need to keep that information secret so well. You can see how much it hurts her, you can almost see her mentally going through the list of people that maybe she could give up and deciding not to give anyone up. It’s an incredible performance that can’t be praised enough. There’s also Idris Elba in a performance that just reconfirms how insanely talented this man is, why the hell is he not Bond yet? Cos this movie shows him to be insanely intelligent and quick on his feet, watching him trying to understand what’s going on in Molly’s head is just fascinating because you can see him slowly working out just how he can defend her, how he can hopefully keep her safe and also see a man trying to be the best father while he’s doing this incredibly difficult job. They are a fantastic double act and scenes with them in an office talking about the case are some of the most brilliant moments in this movie.
Sorkin’s script is pure uncut Sorkin. If you go through his list of trademarks on IMDB, this script ticks every box. The infamous walk and talks, the rapid-fire dialogue, the long monologues about character motivation, it’s all there and it’s all wonderful. I’m very much a fan of his style of writing and for me, this is some of his best work but if you’re not into Sorkin’s writing style then this movie will be a problem for you. The script plays with time wonderfully, flying back and forth between the legal case at the centre of the story and the building of Molly’s poker empire and it’s done expertly. Like a poker game, it’s high intensity with few moments of downtime for everyone to collect themselves while an expert dealer doles out his cards at a brisk pace… yes, comparing a movie about poker to a poker game is cliche, it’s also the best description I’ve got.
Visually the film is nothing to sneeze at, great shots that flow neatly to create the energy that such a film needs. When a film is about something intense like a high stakes poker game you have to make sure that the visuals and the editing help create that specific intensity (Since 5 guys around a table throwing around cards isn’t exactly exciting to most spectators) and once again Sorkin proves he knows what he’s doing because he throws out visual tricks and shots that make every scene work perfectly, the energy is constant and because of that this two and a half hour film is lucky if it feels like it took longer than an hour and a half. It races by, just as you think it’s about to slow down it moves onto the next twist in the tale that Sorkin is weaving for us.
With an enthralling story, gripping characters, hilarious one-liners and some incredible direction, Molly’s Game shows off just how good it is at every turn. There isn’t a dull moment to be found, a gripping ride that should be getting mountains of praise and much more attention than it currently has. It’s a marvellous movie with no flaws I could even try to point out because every single minute was just a great thrill to watch.