2017. Directed by Aaron Sorkin
By Brian Wallinger
Aaron Sorkin’s most recent film is a true story about Molly Bloom, a high-profile poker tournament host. Sorkin proves that he has grown as both a writer and director. Bringing a sharply written script (That I think is quite an improvement from his previous Steve Jobs bio) and an immensely paced structure that takes a leap in avoiding typical genre tropes, Molly’s Game a is major surprise hit of 2017.
Presented in a non-linear format and narrated by Jessica Chastain in an uncompromising, no nonsense performance as Bloom, the story begins with Bloom still a teenager working towards her ambitions of being an endurance ski racer while living with her family. An accident forces Bloom to retire from sports and she works dead end jobs until she finds herself sitting in on high stakes poker games. Much of the narrative is relayed through conversations between Bloom and her lawyer, played by Idris Elba in one of his most restrained and confident roles.
Also alongside Bloom is her estranged father played by Kevin Costner, who holds remorse for treating her the way he had while she was growing up. Costner beautifully executes his brief but memorable role. There are times when it does rely on sentiment although it is full of validation and is convincing enough.
After a long running winning streak Bloom run ins with everyone from celebrities to the Russian Mob. In the stylistic fashion of many previous films (Wolf Of Wall Street) her luck runs out and she is arrested alongside several others in a unified sting operation by the F.B.I. Becoming desperate, Bloom writes a book about her exploits and the book captures the imagination of her lawyer’s daughter. The book is then used as a blue print to be followed through the film, resulting in a final heavy-handed showdown between Bloom and the F.B.I.
The only real setback one might find in this film is that it's overlong and at times rather bland. However, for the most part it is a visually engaging and vibrant film that is well crafted and well-acted. The cinematography (Charlotte Christensen) is stunningly well lit and sets the tone of the film, while the script sets the pace, creating an equally rounded out viewing experience as far as films about Poker go. The editing (Alan Baumgarten) is sharp, while the music, orchestrated by Daniel Pemberton feels slightly generic.
In the end, Molly’s Game is a surprisingly elaborate and precise film in its direction and overall presentation. It is the story of a woman, who against all odds rose above powerful men and came out on top. This is a hard edged drama that is not to be missed.