The true life story of Molly Bloom, a failed skier who opted for a second career as the operator of a high stakes gambling ring, forms the basis of acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s debut as a film director, Molly’s Game. The film bristles with Sorkin’s crackling dialogue, which will come as a surprise to no one. What might be surprising, on the other hand, is that Sorkin also turns in an assured debut as a director and that’s something that doesn’t always happen when a talented writer attempts to make the leap to feature film directing. One need only to harken back to novelist Stephen King’s one and only directorial effort, Maximum Overdrive, to see how easily things can go in the other direction. Thankfully, that’s not the case even if Sorkin’s work as a director isn’t likely to supplant his more gifted contemporaries anytime soon.
Bloom’s life trajectory lead her from the failed dreams of life as a competitive skier to the lucrative world of gambling through a series of coincidences. By putting the assets at her disposal to good use, Molly devised a plan to link up those with high stakes gambling in their blood by hosting weekly games. Things started out well, as they usually do, but then a change of venue to hosting games in NYC resulted in infiltration from the mob. Things then went from bad to worse with Molly eventually being arrested for her possible ties to the Russian mafia, not to mention being on the receiving end of a vicious beating which is painfully re-enacted.
The narrative of the film relates Molly’s tale in a fairly straightforward manner, capably aided by Sorkin’s aforementioned penchant for writing great dialogue. Here he’s chosen to one-up his previous screenplay efforts by having the main character narrate the entire film in voiceover. Screenwriting instructors preach against this rule but here it works to some degree as a counterpoint to the action occurring onscreen. If Sorkin insists on using voiceover then at least he’s choosing to use it smartly.
Jessica Chastain does the honors here in the title role. She’s good, which is also not a surprise, as she’s proven she can go toe to toe with the best of her colleagues in the acting profession. The part of Molly, unfortunately, doesn’t require quite the emotional range which her earlier efforts have proven she’s capable of achieving. It must be noted, for whatever it might be worth, that the actress does get to change outfits at least several dozen times, which may be fitting for a film where numbers are so crucial. The ever increasing number of her costume changes coincides with the ever increasing amounts of money that Molly earns as her business takes off, which may or may not be unintentional. It’s an interesting detail regardless.
According to AMC Hickory’s website, Molly’s Game opens this Friday, January 5.
Jessican Chastain & Idris Elba in Molly’s Game
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