The true story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe. (1)
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Molly’s Games (2018) follows the real-life exploits of Molly Bloom, who ran one of the biggest underground poker games that lasted years, and her ultimate trial afterward. The film beings with a well executed and wince-inducing freestyle skiing sequence, that acts as an introduction point into Molly’s character. From there we move to LA with poker sequences that are as fluid and engrossing as Goodfellas (1990). This is director and co-writer Aaron Sorkin first directorial piece, having been screenwriter for much of his career before, and he chose the perfect story for his directorial debut by creating one of the most enrapturing and compelling films of 2017.
The music and cinematography work hand in hand. The cinematography shows that Sorkin is able to use simple aspects of cinematography in a creative way, the movement is fluid and the visuals of poker hands with innovative camera angles that are amazing. The music gives the audience an idea as to what the scene’s tone is. The poker scenes are mysterious and exhilarating, the legal scenes are dull and nameless, while certain dark scenes are unexpected and shocking.
In terms of the story, I was mesmerized by Molly Bloom’s tale as a woman raised under certain principles that have made her obsessed at being No. 1 in anything she does; whether is being an Olympic skier, a producers assistant, or controlling high-stakes poker games in the underground. The story follows themes of loyalty and power, and while it provides insight into a more darker side to entrepreneurial endeavors – similar to The Social Network (2010) and Steve Jobs (2015) – what makes it different is the overall growth of the main character as well as the growth of those around her.
Jessica Chastain (Miss. Sloane) is the perfect choice to play Molly Bloom. She brings this character to life with a strong backbone and even stronger convictions. Chastain helps the audience understand the underlying motivations behind Molly's actions as well as why she is the way she. Despite her obsession with being No. 1 and the large threat of going to prison for most (if not the rest) of her life, she continually refuses to name names in order to save herself. She would rather go to jail than be known as “the girl who saved herself by destroying lives for $5 million.” This shows just how much respect she has for herself. She understood that money, jobs, and people will come and go but no one – not even the government – can take her name from her because it’s who she is; it’s her identity. Chastain’s performance was so powerful that I had to remind myself that she’s not really Molly Bloom that she’s just acting. All in all, her performance is powerful and her narration of the film is entrancing to listen to.
Idris Elba (The Mountain Between Us) as Molly's lawyer Jaffey, finally gives audiences the chance to see his strength as an actor; such strength can be seen in his recent film The Mountain Between Us (2017), minus all the heroic and flashy parts. This is a strength that comes from within. We see it in his eyes; hear it in his words as he defends Molly, and feel/see it come out in his expressions and mannerisms. His chemistry with Chastain is great and it’s interesting to see them play off of each other’s emotions and conversations. Aside from Elba the rest of the supporting cast – Chris O'Dowd, Bill Camp, Jeremy Strong, Graham Greene, Brian D'Arcy James, Kevin Costner and Michael Cera – is great and play their roles perfectly, considering we don’t know the real names of a few of the characters.
Overall, Molly's Game (2018) is an intelligent film with great character development, sharp dialogue, and a deep story about power, self-loyalty, and drama. The film’s pace is perfectly fast, and the performances by Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba are fitting and memorable. We learn that your name is your identity, your reputation and that sometimes you can’t push against your own conscience even if it means you go to jail. You win some, you lose some but no matter how many time you fail always stay true to yourself because we all need a bit of hope during times of trouble.
"Because it's my name! Its all I have."
- Molly Bloom [to Charlie]
Worth Seeing: 8 of 10 stars
Worth Buying: 8 of 10 stars
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