Movie review: Chastain, Elba go all-in for ‘Molly’s Game’ By SAEED NASIR

Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain celebrity in “Molly’s Game.”

“MOLLY’S GAME” — 3 1/2 personalities — Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd; R (terms, drug content and some violence); on the whole release

For his first directorial effort, longtime Hollywood screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has chosen a subject that ties in nicely along with his past writing work such as “Moneyball” and “The Social Network.” Predicated on a true storyline, “Molly’s Game” is a family portrait of ambition and brains, and a warning about keeping both in balance.

The film follows the go up and semester of Molly Bloom, a one-time Olympic hopeful who wound up running high-stakes poker games in NY and LA for a decade. We meet Molly (Jessica Chastain) on the slopes in Deer Valley, on the verge of qualifying for a spot on the U.S. Skiing Team and a global level at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, when a crash brings her lifelong desire to a halt.

Narration from Chastain starts off to fill in the backdrop, and we learn that Molly originates from a competitive and successful family, dominated by the challenging tutelage of her daddy, Larry (Kevin Costner). Her competitive and ambitious dynamics shaped into a sizeable chip on her behalf make, so when Molly’s snow skiing career came up to an end, it was simply a subject of deciding what else to visit achieve success in.

Though the initial plan was rules school, a part-time job at a club in LA hooks Molly up with a hotshot investment manager she calling Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong) (early on Molly helps it be clear that she’s evolved all the brands of the individuals in her report). Molly is Dean’s on-call helper, and eventually he places her in charge of a weekly texas holdem game that features a variety of big-time stars, including a ruthless professional she refers to as Player X (performed in the film by Michael Cera).

This is just the first step in a 12-year process that needs Molly through ten years of operating high-stakes game titles while gradually providing in to the temptations of the high life. In early stages, she takes aches and pains to keep her engagement legal, but as Molly models out to get started on her own game, and finally leaves Los Angeles for NY, she becomes involved with drugs, starts skimming revenue and makes ties to the Russian mafia.

We find out about all this as Molly relates her account to Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), the legal professional she hires when the FBI comes knocking with a criminal case. Molly’s initiatives to remain out of prison anchor the film’s primary conflict, as the director uses flashbacks to fill in the infamous history that received her there.

Throughout the film, Sorkin paints a picture of a world that is gorgeous, untoward and dangerous, where hundreds of thousands of dollars (and sometimes thousands) hinge on solitary hands of poker. We meet some of the regular personas who haunt Molly’s dining tables, such as Harlan (Costs Camp), the mindful expert who snaps after sacrificing to the inept “Bad Brad” (Brian d’Arcy Adam), or Douglas (Chris O’Dowd), who linger long following the video games to profess his like to Molly.

Chastain is the perfect fit as Molly, betraying the slightest sense of dread beneath her veneer of icy, vindictive self-confidence. Elba also places in an outstanding performance as Jaffey, largely because of some well-crafted dialogue thanks to Sorkin, who also composed the script.

As a story, “Molly’s Game” is absorbing and well informed, even though Sorkin gets into the intricate minutiae of texas holdem strategy. But it’s interesting to see the film work to craft a moral avenue around Molly, who Chastain looks for to portray as both guilty and a woman of integrity. A lot of this comes through the portrayal of her complicated yet humanizing marriage with her father.

At one point we see an old video clip where a young Molly insists that she doesn’t have any heroes because once successful, she’ll be her own hero. It would be interesting to observe how the real Molly Bloom perceives herself today.

A brutal come across with one Mafioso accounts for the film’s violent content, though spread profanity is generally in charge of the film’s R score. Gleam lot of revealing clothes throughout, though it didn’t exactly qualify for nudity or intimate content by MPAA expectations.

“Molly’s Game” is ranked R for terminology, drug content and some violence; jogging time: 140 minutes.

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