MOLLY’S GAME is a full house of chemistry, charisma, and chutzpah
Molly Bloom is ultimately too smart for her own good, but it can’t keep her from being raided by the FBI. Former Olympic skier, Molly Bloom knows what defeat looks like. From a career-ending accident on the slopes to running a very successful, very exclusive poker room in LA and later New York. Molly uses her intelligence and her skills to keep everything above board and legal – at least until she can’t. Molly’s Game isn’t some feminist scree on girl power or sex appeal, even though both are served in abundance.
We’re treated to flashbacks of her childhood, her rise from cocktail waitress to den doyenne, pulling in players, vetting their skills, and raising the stakes. If you’re worried that you don’t know anything about poker, set your fears aside because you learn alongside Molly. If you love poker, you will dig the players’ stories and the crazy hands that get played with stupid amounts of money. Michael Cera is Player X; first a draw, then a downfall. Brian d’Arcy James is a hedge fund manager who’s not as dumb as he looks, and Jeremy Strong is Molly’s first teacher in running a poker game. There is nothing false about these guys, which makes their actions sting a little more.
Yes, Kevin Costner is in this, and it’s hard to swallow that he’s playing someone’s dad, but go with it. Behind many strong women is a man that’s afraid he’s let her down. They have their own intricate dance that at first doesn’t seem important, but it’s really the cornerstone of her story as well as the reason for her actions down the line.
It has all of the character chemistry The Mountains Between Us couldn’t force with an ice pick. First-time director Aaron Sorkin told Variety,” they’re two of the greatest actors of their generation, paired for the first time, and their chemistry will be electric,” and he’s not wrong. These are two smart, passionate people, both jaded by life in different ways. Elba’s Charlie Jaffey is a former prosecutor who knows the ins and outs of the system and has a very difficult time with Molly’s altruism. He could get her a better deal if she’d flip on the players who frequented her table. She refuses, not because of the damage it would do to the players, but the collateral damage to the lives of their wives and children. Molly’s jaded nature comes from dealing with men who think they’re smarter, stronger and more ruthless. Molly and Charlie work to find a common ground for her defense because if they misplay their hand, she’s looking at hard time.
Molly’s Game in the hands of Aaron Sorkin was a stroke of genius. It is directed with precision and even at 2 hours and 20 minutes long, it doesn’t lag or feel slow. That’s the snappy dialogue we’ve come to expect from shows like Newsroom and West Wing, and movies like 2011’s Moneyball. It sounds like it’s spoken by real people and the drama comes naturally.
Based on the autobiography by Molly Bloom, this is a real story that doesn’t feel over-wrought or over-sold. There’s no sex (she’s above that nonsense), very little language, and a scene of violence that’s brief but unexpected. It’s as classy as Molly herself, and you want to go see it.
Molly’s Game is rated R for some swears, a little violence, and some amazing dresses worn by Molly and her girls, also some drug use because it takes a little chemistry to stay up for several days.