Sharpen Your Poker Skills By Playing ‘Molly’s Game (Movie Review)

Molly's Game Movie ReviewI must have a very simple mind.  Alright, I definitely do.  When I first saw the trailer for Molly’s Game I just didn’t get it.  My fiancee had to explain it to me.  Isn’t that sad?  Ha ha.  I blame it on exhaustion and stress from work.  However, after subsequent viewings of it and a second trailer I was down to taking a stake in and playing Molly’s Game.  I mean who doesn’t like illegal gambling operations and making loads of mad money?  I can’t fault anyone for having that American Dream.  On top of that we’re led to believe there’s more than meets the eye with this Molly lady and her motivations for running the successful underground gambling empire.  Therefore, I was fully onboard and invested in Molly’s Game.  What follows below is my account of pretty much everything you can expect from scribe Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut here.

Molly’s Game is billed as a crime drama film and is both written and directed by you guessed it, Mr. Sorkin.  It’s based upon the memoir Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom.  Trying saying that book title five times fast.  Ha!   Our feature here stars the very ravishing Jessica Chastain as Bloom, along with Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, Chris O’Dowd, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Claire Rankin, Joe Keery and Jeremy Strong.  That’s quite an all-star lineup huh?  Sure is!  Molly’s Game follows events in the life of Bloom, mostly surrounding her illegal gambling operations.  She goes on to become the target of an FBI investigation in regards to her underground poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, athletes, business tycoons and of course the Russian mob.  It would not have been complete without Russian involvement.  Sorry, I could not resist.  I digress.

Molly's Game Movie Review

So you guessed it!  Molly’s Game is based on the true story of Molly Bloom (Chastain).  Her story goes a little something like this.  Obviously she has the looks (that much is so obviously true in this one).  She’s a former Olympic-class skier and just so happened to have ran one of the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade.  Her business boasted players such as Hollywood’s hottest (actors, producers, etc.), sport stars, successful businessmen and like I said before even the Russian mob.  However, like all grand tales nothing good ever lasts forever.  That’s just like in real life, huh?  She eventually gets arrested taken in by 17 FBI agents wielding some very big firepower, which they mention multiple times within.  You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking, game over, huh?  Well, believe it or not that’s not really the end of our story.  It’s only the beginning of this tale.  The fun of this movie is her interactions with her criminal defense lawyer, Charlie Jaffey (Elba), and how we learn there’s more than meets the eye behind our leading gal Molly.  Just goes to show you that you can never judge a book by its cover.  Or can you?

On the surface Molly’s Game seems like a pretty straightforward narrative, but when you strip away the layers it’s anything but not.  What I mean by that is it has a very unorthodox style of telling the narrative.  Yes, it jumps around a lot and sometimes makes you feel like you’re watching Batman Begins or Man of Steel instead of someone’s memoir.  On top of that Chastain fiercely pulls off a double duty here.  She’s both the film’s narrator, which made me very nervous at first, and the protagonist in our feature.  Much to her credit though she not only owns the role, but excels at it.  She’s confident, poise and most always seems to have the upper hand.  She has street smarts where it counts and I for one would never want to cross her in the business world.  Her character always has the upper hand, well most always, and the stoic way Chastain holds her chin up high throughout is a very believable sell here.  So that’s Jessica.

Molly's Game Movie Review

Much like his Social Network much of the success of Molly’s Game is due in part to its wits, sharp humor, of course our strong, leading lady and also her surrounding cast mates.  For the most part all the supporting actors, from Costner to Cera, are strong in their roles and fully developed.  How can you ever say anything bad about Elba?  You can’t!  However, with the good usually does comes the bad.  While Molly’s tale is quite interesting and paints her as a powerful feminist role model for me it’s odd to see how a few men really can put her in check thus crumbling that power.  Perhaps though for me, and maybe I was super tired the night of the press screening (that’s a good possibility), the pacing moved a bit slow at times.  Thankfully, the story, Jessica’s charisma and the subject matter of poker kept me not only enthralled throughout, but also very entertained and invested (truly caring what becomes of the outcome).  The ending for me though was a bit weak, but I feel it’s a movie that should really be seen at least once as it showcases in my opinion a pretty strong directorial debut for Mr. Sorkin.

All in all the pros outweigh the cons here when it comes to Molly’s Game.  Did you ever want to know poker lingo, how to bluff and other sort of good advice that would be beneficial in Vegas or at the next neighborhood poker party?  Then this is the movie for you!  Don’t let Jessica’s stone cold performance as Molly Bloom fool you either.  There are a couple scenes here that really throw an emotional punch at you, mostly between her and Coster.  He plays her onscreen father.  Finally, Sorkin does a grand job at stitching the multiple timelines together, presenting them in an entertaining fashion and keeping you invested in the well being and safe keeping of our protagonist Molly.  The only thing I could ever ask for here is a slicker ending, but it’s based off a memoir, folks.  Beggars can’t be choosers.  Best of all if I didn’t sell you in it, try this on for size.  Molly’s Game has already received two Golden Globe nominations: Best Screenplay and Best Actress – Drama for Chastain.  I think because of the clever way this one was “stitched” together and the way Chastain held her own both nominations are very achievable.

Molly’s Game will have a very limited release by STXfilms in the United States on Christmas Day before going wide on January 5, 2018.  If you’re in the Austin, TX area, then you’re only outlet will be the Regal Arbor Cinemas or Alamo Mueller 6.  Enjoy!

Molly's Game Movie Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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