Director: Aaron Sorkin
Talent: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd
Released: 29 December
What’s the only way to get over losing? More winning, according to Aaron Sorkin’s latest film. It tells the true story of Molly Bloom (not Irish) as she goes from Olympic level skier to Russian mob associate and back again to living in her mom’s house. It’s an exhilarating ride and great story told by writer/director Aaron Sorkin, and dressed with all the usual Sorkinisms that you’d expect.
First of all, there’s our main character: Molly Bloom. She’s a highly-driven, highly-intelligent and, at the same time, highly-flawed individual. She likes to talk fast, spit bars on US federal law for fun and always remain firmly in the right. Bloom is played wonderfully by Jessica Chastain whose energy and toughness anchor this film throughout. Then there’s our subject: poker. This highly technical and most romantic of games allows for some classic Sorkin lines as various terminology and myths surrounding the game get a thorough dressing down. And finally, there’s our premise: Molly is indicted by the FBI on charges of association with the Russian mob and yet remains fiercely protective of the players who took part in her ‘game’. Check, check, check.
For the most part, Sorkin’s film works. The central plot following Molly’s rise from couch-surfing in LA to running high-end games of poker in New York is engaging. The revolving nature of the participants at a poker table makes for some interesting cameos (mostly notably from Chris O’Dowd) and there are more than a few good gags and witty streams of dialogue. However, Molly’s Game tends to get bogged down when dealing with either of its two subplots. The first, involving Molly’s relationship with her attorney (Idris Elba), never really clicks and adds a lot of weight. The second, involving Molly’s relationship with her father (Kevin Costner), is far more interesting but gets very hammy, very quickly when finally addressed. Clocking in at a bloated 2hr 20min, this film could have done with losing one of these and focusing on what it was good at: namely, telling the story. Hopefully, Sorkin will remember to leave more on the editing room floor for his second turn in the director’s chair.
Words: Cal Byrne