Based on real life events, Molly’s Game tells the story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a charismatic former Olympic skier who became the focus of the world media when she was unveiled by the FBI as one of the masterminds behind an illegal gambling operation in Hollywood. Based on Bloom’s own memoir and adapted to the screen by the inimitable Aaron Sorkin, the film is an exhilarating, hard-hitting and, at times, genuinely thrilling piece of filmmaking which will have you gripped to its story from start to finish.
Pushed by her father Larry (Kevin Costner) to always aim higher than most, Molly Bloom (Charstain) has made it her goal in life to win an Olympic gold medal no matter what it takes. However her hopes are suddenly dashed when a devastating injury puts an end to her sporting career. Forced to abandon the sport she loves, Molly moves to LA and takes on a summer job which will eventually catapult her into a life of high glamour, illegal gambling and excessive drugs use.
After a chance meeting with wealthy real estate agent Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong) who casually offers her a job as his assistant, Molly soon finds out that most of his money and extravagant lifestyle comes from an illegal high class gambling operation in which some of Hollywood’s richest men spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to be part of. Egged on by a mysterious poker player known only as Player X (Michael Cera), Molly decides to grab the bull by the horns and embarks on her own lucrative operation in direct competition with her old boss, however things don’t quite go to plans and she soon finds herself under scrutiny from all sides.
First-time director Sorkin is not only able to apply his usual brand of fast-paced filmmaking to his new role as director, but he also manages to offer a beautifully nuanced, clever and simply thrilling story about a real person who just happened to find herself in extraordinary circumstances. Sorkin’s ability to move back and forth along the non-linear narrative with absolute ease, coupled with a near-perfect attention to detail, allows him to fully immerse his audiences in a world most of them would have known very little of, and cared even less about.
Chastain is impeccable as Bloom, her ability to convey the sense of danger and competitive streak in her character is beyond impressive. She offers Bloom as a ball-breaker whose weakness ultimately manages to outweigh her strength and eventually lends her in an impossible situation. While Idris Elba as the lawyer who chooses to represent her case pro bono, puts in an impressive turn which is only mildly let down by, an times, shaky American accent.
Other notable performances come courtesy of Michael Cera, whose infallible comic timing is yet again in full use here, and Kevin Costner who puts in an outstandingly scene-stealing turn as Molly’s father.
On the whole, Molly’s Game isn’t just aware of what it wants to offer its audiences, it is also very confident that this is exactly what they want from it. Sorkin, who is not known to ever shy away from having his characters make grandiose and needlessly wordy public declarations, is even able to avoid the usual excessively verbose dialogue, opting instead for more sedate exchanges. A beautifully engaging story which deserves all the accolades which are likely to be bestowed upon it.