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Molly's Game is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned that there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led us to believe.
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In the first five minutes of Molly’s Game, you learn her traits beyond being a stereotypical steamy Vegas chick, thanks to the famous actress in Molly’s role. Jessica Chastain’s (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) smooth husky voiceover narration sucks you in right away, a portrayal depicting the true anti-wife identified by her greed. Then once the worst thing hits her operation, Chastain slows down her expressions into a sad conflicted face.
You learn lots of information about the other people she meets in the way they talk down at each other. Each connection made between the characters starts off effectively tense, driven by gender dominance, then several later turn quite personal, guaranteed to sway you parents out there. Molly’s court attorney even forced his daughter to read The Crucible, setting off common daddy issues between the two that creates a more believable relationship. Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), one of the film’s several noteworthy actors, deserves some well-earned awards buzz from the way he plays off Chastain as the court attorney.
Molly’s autobiography of the same name, adapted by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network) fluidly translates clever informative expositions, beyond just the chilly narrative dialogue, into a nonlinear narrative which explains around poker’s rules to describe Molly's legal case. The dialogue focuses in on everyone’s discussion about the law in relation to convincing Molly about the true worst thing ever. Case in point: one consultant tells her at the start of her operation, “Don’t break the law while breaking the law.”
It’s quite transparent however that Sorkin is a first-time director: his efforts to generate sympathy, as much as it accomplishes the job’s necessities, pays off relatively little to match the genuine intended joy on Molly’s part. The fast edit cuts spliced amongst still images and historical tapes straight up copies the visual style of The Big Short, except with bland pacing alongside an often-defocused camera. Ultimately, the visual decisions around Molly scrambles the subject of people’s worship without enough originality.
Molly’s grudges against the Russian mafia likewise draw back the experience a bit further, as if they’re merely plot devices in service of Vladimir Putin. In fact, through actions like the large amounts of Molly’s chest shown or the spicy descriptions about poker, Sorkin falls victim to the “Male Gaze,” meaning the way men and women dress/behave/etc. in the media caters to men’s sexual urges. Such a movie about a woman could have used a stronger authenticity under a Female Gaze! Other young women may consequently not see themselves in her place, and prefer an actress who resembles the real Molly Bloom in age and natural hair color, rather than watching some huge celebrity’s studio-push toward an Oscar.
I’m probably scraping the barrel right now, yet I still recommend this energized biopic! Thanks to the dialogue more so than the direction, the claustrophobic energy of illustrated geometric degree angles never dies off, apparently shuffling you into Molly’s deck while she deals her cards in the game of skill.
Of course, we’ve each had a traumatic turning point similar to her Olympics incident, but her legacy today reminds of a truth urgently closer to home than a stray tree branch in our path. It parallels the blame both sexes share for the other’s pain, teaching us how our own greed attracts crime. Amongst the current Hollywood sex scandals, we sincerely need the proper empowerment communicated in Molly’s game.
The story is about Molly Bloom (Chastain), whose Olympic skiing opportunity was cut short by an evergreen twig during the trials. Prior to entering law school, Molly decides to take some time off and have some fun. So she moves to Los Angeles, from Colorado and works at a series of jobs until she becomes the personal assistant to Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong). For the record, although the film is based on Bloom’s own book, the real names of the participants have been changed.
Keith regularly hosts a high stakes poker game at a local bar. He has Molly play hostess and bookkeeper. When Keith sees that Molly is earning more in tips at the game than he is paying her, he decides she doesn’t deserve a salary anymore. This infuriates Molly, so she quits and starts up her own game at a high end hotel. The same players show up and she quickly adds players and raises the stakes. Perhaps the most fun is listening to Molly explain – in a voiceover similar to Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” (2015) – how poker should be played, and how each of the players actually play. The narration shows up throughout the film giving context to Molly’s involvement in what may be illegal gambling.
Some two years after she leaves gambling and related vices behind she is caught up in a racketeering charge while living in New York. She hires Charlie Jaffey (Elba) to defend her. Jaffey is just as fast on his feet as Molly which leads to some great scenes between two of our best actors. The film runs long at 140 minutes and one could argue some of the poker playing scenes and characters could have been easily excised. Still it is all fun to watch and listen to.
The poker players include real celebrities played by actors like Michael Cera, Chris O’Dowd, Brian d’Arcy James, Bill Camp and others. There are flashback scenes featuring Molly growing up under the guidance of her tough-as-nails father played by Kevin Costner. He shows up in the final act in an excellent emotional scene before Molly goes to trial. It is always great fun to participate in an Aaron Sorkin written story. He appears to be just as good putting the film pieces together. This is one of the best movies of 2017.
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After an injury derails her Olympic skiing career, pre-law student Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) finds her way into the world of underground,...Read more