Review: Molly’s Game

With Molly’s Game, Sorkin gives a promising directorial debut, bringing to the screen a captivating story based on fact, and a powerful female lead.

This biographical drama, follows the story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who finds her life going in a different direction that planned following a sports injury. In the role of Molly Bloom, Jessica Chastain becomes a smart, goal-orientated, business woman, running an exclusive high-stakes poker game, and as a result becoming an FBI target. Alongside of her, we see Idris Elba star as her honest and fully law-abiding lawyer.

The film starts of very strong and with a great level of energy. There is a build-up of tension and story development, which keeps an audience intrigued. Even though the film is long, coming to two hours and twenty minutes, the duration doesn’t make itself known.

However, as the ending approaches, a dip in energy can be sense, and it seems as if the film rushes to a resolve, leaving an anti-climactic feeling in the air. Therefore, the first half, or even three-quarters, of the film are much stronger.

The opening is very memorable and sets the tone in an interesting fashion. The opening question absorbs the audience into the film, and marks the beginning of the part of Molly’s life that’s largely dealt with in the film.

Sorkin presents Molly’s Game in two intercut parts. One is a flashback account of past events – the decade of Molly spent becoming the “poker princess”, told with a strong use of narration. The other, the present day action, dealing with Molly’s criminal investigation.

The two are mixed together in a skilful way, to create an absorbing and well-paced experience for the audience. The world of the underground poker games is brought to life with quick cuts. This creates a sense of thrill and thus, simulates the atmosphere of a poker game, and represents the rapidly changing nature of gambling.

At the other side of this world is the present, where the pacing is considerably slower. Coming out from flashback, the present day action gives an audience breathing room and allows time for processing all the information being given.

Throughout the telling of the film, narration plays a key role, the film is clearly overly reliant on it as an expositional tool. While the story remains engaging, it can’t be denied that information is being thrown out left and right as Molly narrates the story.

Despite its practicality at points, it proves to be overused. A feeling creeps in where it seems like your listening to an audio book of the memoir as opposed to watching a film based on it.

As regards to dialogue, it’s clearly distinguishable as Sorkin’s work. This isn’t good or bad, but rather simultaneously both.

Sorkin writes incredibly witty and absorbing dialogue, with memorable lines and a certain bluntness. There is no doubt that he writes great dialogue, and no doubt that this film illustrates said skill. However, the underlying problem related to Sorkin’s style remains – his characters talk the same way.

Throughout the film we are met with articulate characters, who say what they’re thinking in elaborate and eloquent speeches. They say a lot, they say it fast, and they have a certain level at which they speak – making them all sound intellectual. This is true for Chastain’s Molly, Elba’s Charlie, Kevin Costner’s Larry, and Michael Cera’s Player X. 

This is a trademark “Sorkinism” as it can be traced back to his other works, including The Social Network. Still, despite being a repetitive quality, the smart and witty dialogue in this film, paired with the brilliant delivery from the above mentioned actors, helps create powerful and intelligent characters who are driving forces within the story.

Ultimately, while the film has certain imperfections, it’s a success for Sorkin as a first time director, and all in all a compelling story, with an astounding cast. It’s definitely worth watching.

Weronika Urban

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