Molly Bloom’s storyline has it all: Russian mobsters, FBI bust-ins, push-up bras and cash. Millions and millions than it. The heroine of Molly’s Game was on track to be an Olympic snowboarding champ, until a freak accident took her out of the race, and a very different profession ensued, as she inched her way, stack-heeled, into operating the most infamous high-stakes poker game in Hollywood.
A-list actors from Leonardo DiCaprio to Ben Affleck wanted in on the action. And then, in a flurry of scandal and racketeering charges, it all came crashing down.
It’s one of those rise-and-fall arcs so beloved of North american biopics – think Goodfellas with cosmopolitans, and a side order of feminist push-back from the reeking sexism of the rich males’ team. Adapting Bloom’s tell-all memoir, Aaron Sorkin makes his directing debut, and his script throws your kitchen sink at it: you certainly ensure you get your money’s well worth of strutting Sorkinese and sweet interrogative banter. Additionally you get those money’s value of Jessica Chastain in sequins, commodifying her complete turn to play combined with the male illusion she’s selling.
Sorkin has used a fair range of liberties with Molly’s tale – her real-life lawyer was a white person called Jim Walden, but here he’s Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), a clean operator not exactly chomping at the little bit to take care of her defence.
Sorkin-y to the key, their active is one of the film’s real plus points: way more than Molly’s vexed marriage with her daddy (Kevin Costner), which clogs in the works quite badly, and adds a complete half-hour onto the operating time it didn’t particularly need.
Whether we’re lawyering up or narrating the crisis of any night’s play, it’s hard to miss Sorkin’s writing, but he has yet to find an equivalently distinctive style behind the camera. Beyond a flashy prologue explaining how Molly’s automobile accident took place, the film is come up with with secondhand panache – dabs of Scorsese everywhere you look, in a predictable Gambling house/Wolf of Wall membrane Street vein.
It gets by, but it’s often akin to high-quality TV, missing the thrilling melancholy and top-flight showmanship that really made The Social Network – knocked for six by David Fincher from one of Sorkin’s standout scripts – feel just like a must-see.
Chastain, arguably, was even more pleasurable in Pass up Sloane, her underrated, equally stack-heeled gun-lobby play from this past year. Still, there are parts here that grab you by the lapel, and they are more often than not about watching the guys around the desk, waiting for the gloat, the mistake or the fateful find out about to flip the room cool.
Michael Cera performs an unnamed superhero professional, Player X, a amalgamated character at least partially based on Tobey Maguire – Bloom’s most notorious customer – whose managing, show-offy antics and evil entitlement are wittily thought.
And there’s a concealed triumph in the encouraging ensemble from the always-reliable persona actor Charge Camp (Black colored Mass, Midnight Special), whose stunning, hideously convincing wipe-out as a man called Harlan Eustice, throughout a single nighttime, sets much of the plot in motion.
Forget the biographical backstory: the poker in Molly’s Game is the main reason to stay in, with Chastain keeping her eyes hawkishly on the reward, and whole professions hinging on a card-flip. It’s an addict’s paradise, about to be lost.
Molly’s Game is released on January 1