Molly’s Game is the vivacious directorial debut from Aaron Sorkin (the writer of The Social Network, Steve Jobs and The West Wing), and is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Molly Bloom.
The film follows the turbulent and treacherous true life story of almost-Olympic skier turned underground game runner Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain). It cuts comfortably and astutely between her preparation for her indictment by the courts with her, at first, disgruntled lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) and the events that led up to her FBI arrest.
The screen oozes with the class and elegance one could expect from the high stake poker games that Molly runs, but quickly cuts to the dirt and grime of the underground world that allows the audience to truly feel the jarring change that Molly experiences. Molly’s Game is a long film, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it; your attention is rapt, yearning to see the story unfurl under the capable hands of Sorkin’s writing and direction. Although the whole product of the film is outstanding, what will stick with you in Molly’s Game, however, is the leading performance.
Jessica Chastain, known for her roles as a standout lead such as in last year’s Miss Sloane and The Zookeeper’s Wife, grabs the agonising story of Molly Bloom in a way only Chastain could, with a nuanced performance that displays the many varied quirks of Molly Bloom. From harrowing moments of mob brutality and comical back and forths with Idris Elba, Chastain shows us all facets of Molly Bloom and demonstrates just how special she is. She is dynamic and soulful, wise and catty, but, underneath, there is the idea of a woman who is truly, deeply, hurt. She is independent and remarkable, yet desires comfort and warmth. And Chastain can convey this to us by just the movement of her eyebrow as Michael Cera looks at his hand of cards.
Chastain is supported by Idris Elba and Kevin Costner, who, predictably, give heartfelt, earnest performances that still allow the leading actress to thrive. Other almost cameo-like appearances include Chris O’Dowd, Michael Cera, and Joe Keery that only serve to further the concept the movie follows: that everyone was involved in one of Molly’s Games at some point. And this film? Well, if you choose to deal in, you’ll definitely be in for a jackpot.