Saturday, January 20, 2018

[Review] Molly's Game

Esteemed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball) makes his directorial debut with the high-stakes drama, Molly's Game. Despite being a bit overlong, the film is a winner -- thanks to Jessica Chastain's terrific lead performance and the snappy, well-wrought dialogue.

The film shuffles through the true life of Molly Bloom (Chastain), a former Olympic-class skier
who went on to run exclusive, top-level poker clubs -- making big-time deals in more ways than one. As the savvy mastermind keenly blurs the lines between what's legal and what isn't, the FBI tries their hand at busting down her entire organization.

Sorkin, who also pens the screenplay, orchestrates the proceedings with his customary knack for clever, whip-smart exchanges of words and amusing face-offs between characters. Jessica Chastain is absolutely brilliant here, embodying this intensely driven and relentlessly unfolding individual with shifty zeal and attitude. The supporting cast is strong too: Idris Elba checks in as a cooler than cool lawyer, Michael Cera dirties up as a hardcore poker player, and Kevin Costner plays Molly's complicated father, adding some personal heft to an otherwise stone-faced story. But he makes a questionable late-film appearance that unfortunately seems very ham-fisted.

But the film's main problem is that it lapses into a few dense and unengaging stretches, especially if you aren't super familiar with the gambling world. At times it feels like crunched numbers and thick court documents are being tossed at you at a rapid rate. Odds are, the film could've benefited from a shaved-down runtime. But despite the slip-ups, Molly's Game still comes out ahead.

( 7.5/10 )

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