Molly’s Game, the famed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, is the true story of ex-Olympic hopeful Molly Bloom’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of the poker underworld—an oxymoron, it seems. The movie is a quick-talking, nimbly-paced modern drama about a damaged woman in a man’s world.
Jessica Chastain, who stars as the titular (wink) Moll y is a national treasure. She’s in almost every frame and she is worthy of the showy role. Idris Elba plays Molly’s reluctant lawyer and handles the Sorkin dialogue the best of anyone in the film. Michael Cera is actually pretty good as Player X, an amalgam of real-life Hollywood star high-rollers, most notably Tobey Maguire. Kevin Costner does an admirable job as Molly’s strict father. Though to some it may be an eye-roller, Costner’s return actually makes sense realistically. There are a lot of “trope-y” happenings, but Costner’s psychological monologue rings true and provides a resolution that the film would not have otherwise.
Sorkin’s script is much less reminiscent of his past than would be predicted. While his quirks can be fun, that there is some separation here is imperatively a good thing. Sorkin’s directing is decent in spots, but overall there is something lacking. It’s probably the lack of experience. One can only wonder what could have been had the script been in the hands of a Gilroy or Fincher. The actual poker scenes are a letdown, as well. They had an unremarkable low stakes feel. I’m sure the die-hards would have hoped for a Brian Koppelman look-over.
However, Molly’s Game is fun and will definitely be a re-watchable cable movie in the vein of poker films and Sorkin movies of the past.