Director: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba & Kevin Costner
Rating: 15 Duration: 140 minutes Release date: 1 January (UK)
Some things are just undeniably tailor made for each other. Cheese and onion crisps, Posh and Becks, cheese on toast with brown sauce on. No? OK, but my point is, some things just gel from the get go and in Molly’s Game – Aaron Sorkin’s lightning quick script and the dominating presence of Jessica Chastain combine for an almighty effect. With the true story of Molly Bloom adding extra spice, Molly’s Game is a blistering onslaught of swift dialogue and earnest acting with Chastain adding to her growing list of incredible performances.
The film opens with Chastain’s Bloom narrating the early part of her life. To be exact, we go to a 20 something Bloom whose life is about to be changed forever by a horrific sporting accident. This sets her on a path away from her family and her overbearing father – a scene stealing Kevin Costner. Molly packs up and moves to Los Angeles where she starts working for a low grade Hollywood douchebag as his personal assistant. Said douchebag doesn’t pay Molly and treats her mostly like shit. She continues to work for him and when Molly helps to organise his underground poker games, she begins to make thousands of dollars in tips each night. When her boss becomes agitated by Molly’s popularity, he threatens her and her “job”. Molly being Molly quits and sets up her own poker game leaving Mr. Douchebag behind. Soon, Molly is in the same company as rock stars, actors and professional athletes and before long the FBI too.
The sheer force of Aaron Sorkin’s script is enough to propel Molly’s Game to heights other films can only dream of. There is such zip to Sorkin’s wordplay, you can positively see the joy on the likes of Idris Elba and Chastain’s faces as they verbalise Sorkin’s script. From the films opening it has Sorkin’s DNA all over it and the pace only lets up once the action moves from Los Angeles to New York. There is something about the seedy side of the City of Angels mixing with the glamorous well-to-do side that imbues Molly’s Game with a real edge that is sadly lacking in the films second half. Despite crossing paths with gangsters & hit-men, and Kevin Costner giving us the films most tender moment, Molly’s Game doesn’t recover from the shift in locale.
With Jessica Chastain though, the film exudes quality. Amy Adams aside, she is one of the best actresses working today. Her ability to pick and play confident, alpha female leads while simultaneously oozing sex appeal simply cannot be outdone. Everything about Chastain here flows with confidence, and even when everything is going against her she simply will not give in. As Molly faces a Federal court, with Idris Elba’s lawyer in tow, she won’t play by the systems rules and does not concede the details they want from her tell-all book, which ironically didn’t tell-all. Not giving in and holding onto your dignity are strong themes here and Chastain mightily displays both of these qualities.
Molly’s Game may not be perfect and it does lose its way in the second half. But, nonetheless it remains a satisfying film with an incredible performance from Jessica Chastain, so much so she is worth the price of admission alone.