Review: Molly’s Game (2017)

If this movie teaches you one thing, it’s that Molly Bloom is probably one of the coolest people alive today. Molly’s Game tells the incredible true story of how she came to run the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game, using only her wits to get her to the top. Perhaps the most respectable thing about Bloom, however, is how determined she was to always maintain her integrity, as well as the legality of her operations. If you don’t know Molly Bloom’s story, then go see this movie, if only for that reason. Or you can go see it because it’s one of the best films of 2017.

Idris Elba is also good, but Jessica Chastain steals the show

Molly’s Game briefly tells the life story of Molly Bloom – her father’s determination to make her a world-class skier, her road to becoming a world-class skier, and the accident that prevented her from becoming a world-class skier. After Olympic dreams were shot down, Molly moves to LA, delaying her father’s wishes for her to go to law school. After landing a job as an assistant for an ambitious filmmaker, Molly is introduced to the poker world. A few years later, Molly has run the biggest underground poker games in the world with some of the most famous and wealthy men in the world. After being arrested by the FBI, however, Molly hires a lawyer, Charlie Jaffrey, to help her.

When playing a real-life character as impressive as Molly Bloom, casting is key. Thankfully, Bloom herself knew who would be best for the job, as she requested to writer/director Aaron Sorkin that Jessica Chastain be the one to play her. Chastain is one of the five best actresses working today, and a role like this is right up her alley. For one, Chastain herself has a similar demeanor to Molly Bloom, making her perfect for the biographical role. Second, I’m amazed that this is the first time that Chastain has appeared in a movie written by Aaron Sorkin, because I don’t think there’s a better person in this world to read Sorkin dialogue than Jessica Chastain. This film features a lot of narration, and a whole lot of fast-paced dialogue. Chastain is a master of both of these things. It’s an impressive character, and perhaps an even more impressive performance.

Aaron Sorkin has written some of the greatest screenplays of all time, so there’s been a lot of anticipation for this directorial debut of his. What we learn from watching this movie is that Sorkin directs exactly the way he writes. The film is extremely fast-paced, it is focused on words and language rather than action, and it maintains a certain unsophisticated grittiness that makes it feel oh so real. Sorkin utilizes a non-linear structure with the narrative, jumping between the days surrounding her trial, her journey from waitress to running high-stakes poker games, and her childhood as a skier and with her father. The jumps between these scenes are quick and information heavy, but Sorkin’s masterful dialogue and complimentary directing never require the use of title cards to cue the audience in.

Michael Cera as Tobey MacGui-. . . I mean, Player X

The opening scene of this film is a marvel, featuring a roughly three-to-five-minute piece summarizing Molly’s life before her skiing accident, as well as the accident itself. This fast-paced scene is one of my favorite scenes of 2017. Sorkin’s narration and interspersed dialogue is brilliant, teaching the audience about the characters, about the craft, and what kind of movie we’re all in for. Throughout the entire movie, but especially during this scene, the three-man editing team of Alan Baumgarten, Elliot Graham, and Josh Schaffer are just as important as Sorkin in making this happen. To be fair, when there’s multiple editors credited, it usually means the director was instrumental in the editing room as well. Regardless of who had the digital scissors, Molly’s Game is one of the two best-edited films of 2017. It’s truly masterful work.

Aaron Sorkin is a name that is exceedingly well-known in the filmmaking world, but hardly a household name anywhere else. It is fitting, then, that his directorial debut would be a film that is sure to be loved by filmmakers and enthusiasts, but less attractive to anyone else. Molly’s Game is an impressive film to watch for its performances, editing, and especially writing. And while it is exceedingly informational, telling a really cool story, it will struggle to be overly entertaining to most other audiences. That being said, I encourage everyone to see this movie because it’s some of the best filmmaking and one of the coolest stories of 2017.

I give Molly’s Game an 8.6/10.

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