RELEASED: 1st January 2018
DIRECTOR: Aaron Sorkin
CAST: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, Chris O’Dowd, J. C MacKenzie, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Jeremy Strong, Matthew D. Matteo, Joe Keery, Natalie Krill, Claire Rankin, Madison McKinley, Angela Gots, Khalid Klein, Victor Serfaty and Jon Bass
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $59.2m
AWARDS: None (1 Academy Award nomination, 2 Golden Globe nominations and 1 BAFTA nomination)
Molly’s Game is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, a world-class skier who once had Olympic ambitions that were cut short to a career-ending injury, who would then run one of the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by the FBI. Unfortunately for Molly, she indicted for involvement in illegal gambling with the Russian mob, leading to her only alley in her corner being criminal defence lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learns that there’s more to Molly than what the tabloids led us to believe.
Aaron Sorkin has been one of the most highly-acclaimed screenwriters for the last few decades, going from A Few Good Men in 1992 right up to 2010 when he finally earned that Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network. Molly’s Game was where Sorkin finally decided to not only adapt the screenplay, but also make his directorial feature here. Like his previous work before, Sorkin’s screenplay absolutely sucks you into this world of poker, with his direction just as quick and sharp as the dialogue that he’s written, and that’s thanks to the work of the film editors on the project Alan Baumgarten, Josh Schaeffer and Elliot Graham. Sorkin plays with flashbacks and present day throughout and yet the film doesn’t lag or miss a beat with its electric-paced energy, tight narrative structure that has you immersed into following Molly’s journey. Molly Bloom, as a character on paper (let alone real life figure), is an interesting one for an actor to sink their teeth into about and Jessica Chastain approaches it with a me against the world, take no prisoners attitude that is absolutely fascinating to watch, she gives a powerhouse performance here that it’s almost critical that she wasn’t even given recognition of a nomination by the Academy. We get to explore Molly’s psyche on a personal level, going right back to how her relationship with her father has shaped her adulthood, right down to how she points out at one time that she wanted to win, in what and against who was just minor details. With the limited screentime that he has, Kevin Costner gives a good performance as Molly’s father Larry Bloom, Michael Cera has an absolute ball playing the role of Player X (allegedly based on Tobey Maguire, but who knows for sure) and Idris Elba gives a great performance in the role of criminal defence lawyer Charlie Jaffey, arguably his best role of the decade (counter argument could be made for his role as Commandant in Netflix film Beasts of No Nation). As directorial feature debuts go, Sorkin’s is great and absolutely rewatchable and I look forward to seeing what his next directorial film will be like.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Harlan Eustice, a skilled poker player, takes on one of the worst players, arguably in the history of mankind, in Brad. The way this scene is played out, right down to the narration, is very well executed.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “ I like destroying lives.” – Player X
DID YOU KNOW: Molly Bloom is banned from Canada because she pleaded guilty to a federal crime in the United States. She was granted a 48-hour pass to visit Canada for the movie’s premiere at TIFF. Ironically, the film was shot in Canada.