Molly's Game: a spoiler-free review
I approached Molly's Game with high expectations because Aaron Sorkin was the writer director and the main characters are played by Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba. The film is based on a book written by the true life person Molly Bloom and tells her story of how she went from Olympian skier to running the highest-stakes poker games in the US. I was unfamiliar with her story so I came to it not knowing the ending. TO preserve the final moments of the film, try not to do any research on Molly Bloom before seeing the film. No spoilers here either.
Aaron Sorkin created The West Wing and wrote the screenplays for The Social Network and Steve Jobs so he is no stranger to writing good dialogue. His quick-fire directorial style is synonymous with his writing style and in Molly's Game the dialogue explodes, almost assaulting the viewer, but in a smart way. The dialogue is so fast and sharp that it needed heavyweights like Chastain and Elba to deliver it. Their scenes together are the highlight of the film. Both actors are in excellent form and both have had a busy year.
It's not without its faults. The whole skiing back story felt incongruous. I understand the point was to show Molly's grit, determination, her drive to overcome obstacles in life but to be honest I learnt more about how skiing in the Olympics works. The other problem I have is with the character of her psychologist Dad played by Kevin Costner. The character was a tired trope and the relationship between father and daughter a little stereotypical in film-land.
The world of high-stakes poker is alien to me and is presented here with passion and fascination with expository narration by Chastain's character. These were real games with real players. While the original book names some of the players (their details came out in a separate lawsuit), the film does not go there and merely hints at the players identities.
Having seen the film, I did some research on Molly Bloom and there are plenty of online articles and interviews about her if you want to know more.
By the way, as she admits in the film, despite her name, she is not Irish.
A few faults but thoroughly enjoyable.