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Molly's Game (2017) - Movie Review

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Molly's Game - Movie Review

5 starsCheck your line. Especially when you are dealing with gambling addicts. That’s one of the lessons to be learned while playing Molly’s Game.

Molly’s Game begins with a masterfully composed sequence of quick edits and even-paced, unemotional narration from Jessica Chastain, who asks and analyzes exactly what the worse thing that could happen in sports is. Five minutes later, we get it laid out before us as she, a hopeful Olympic skier, wipes out thanks to a pine tree root. Boom.

With that, there is no doubt in my mind that Chastain is deserving of whatever award comes her way this year. Her performance here is astounding.

Twelve years later, Molly Bloom is in FBI handcuffs for illegal gambling charges. This is her story – that of the renowned Poker Princess – and it is a stunner. Who cares if it sometimes feels straight from the pages of a Steven Soderbergh crime caper? That’s a damn compliment if you ask me. Except no one here is running a con. Molly, who keeps putting off law school, was raised to be a champion and this, in the world of high stakes poker, is how she ultimately wins.

Molly’s Game, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (in this his whopper of a stylish directorial debut), is a fantastically paced film about poker and all of its ins and outs. And, yes, it is loaded with an onslaught of words that keeps everything about the game and how it is played both inspired and, as this is based on a true story, completely in-check. We also get, thanks to the mighty Sorkin, some fully fleshed characters.

Molly, after becoming a PA for a rich Hollywood asshat, learns the basics of poker, Googling every word she doesn’t know and getting tipped fairly well from the likes of actor Michael Cera – who becomes Player X – Eminem, and other celebrities. She listens. She learns. She soaks in what she needs to and becomes the best thing about the game for a lot of the attendees. She does not sleep with them.

She quickly, as the film suggests, dwarves into “the Cinemax version” of herself through her dress alone. As the film and the game itself moves based on her specific set of skills, she finds her boss not appreciating the attention. She quickly takes over, running games in Los Angeles and New York, and going after all sorts of interested parties. Hell, even losing in poker can be profitable.

Except her game doesn’t end there. It works – after making sure that she’s not breaking the law as she’s arguably breaking the law – its way clear into the Russian mob, thanks to a need to defeat both her father (Kevin Costner) and the originator, Player X (who might just actually be Tobey Maguire). Or does it? We may never know.

Either way, it becomes clear – by the arresting events at the beginning of the movie – she needs a lawyer. Enter Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who agrees to take her case after the feds come bursting in on her American Dream, two years after she stopped hosting games and she reveals – at least to him – the real truth in her journey through the legal system. What follows is a card shark of a crime drama that is constantly engaging in more than a “walk and talk” manner.

Molly’s Game is smartly made; it also has clever daddy issues thanks to flashbacks showcasing that Molly is a creation of her own, borne out of frustration in trying to please a very stern father. The film, in a very sprawling manner, damn near gives – with racing dialogue – its audience verbal whiplash. The film works because it combines everything you loved about Moneyball into a nice female-fronted flick that prefers bourbon to water each and every time.

There’s no getting back to even as, this holiday season, everyone will be playing Molly’s Game. Full tilt indeed.

Molly's Game - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for language, drug content and some violence.
140 mins
: Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin
Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
: Drama | Sports
Based on a true story.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You are so fucked!"
Theatrical Distributor:
STX Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 29, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.

No details available.

Molly's Game - Movie Review

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