When you hear the genre biography most people think just another stuffy, lackluster film. Well, hold onto your seat because Molly’s Game gets compelling, openly poignant and powerful. The story has the usual buildup and Hollywood accoutrements, but the content is mostly true being based on the book by our subject Molly Bloom.
Top rated skier and third in North America in women’s moguls, Molly Bloom’s (Jessica Chastain) about to change her life when she gets into the starting block at the Olympic Trials in Salt Lake City. With the best run she will win the championship and give her a slot in the Olympics. But, what’s the worse thing can happen, happens. Due to an unpredictable flaw in the snow from a pine branch, she loses her left ski during a jump.
A decade later she’s being arrested for running an illegal gambling operation and solicits the help of lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba). The true story takes place after the fall from an Olympic opportunity to her fall from grace in a completely opposite kind of participatory sport. Taking over poker organizer’s Dean Keith’s (Jeremy Strong) game night, Molly takes a chance that will catapult her into a business and make her tons of money. So begins a life that puts Molly at the center of controversy and high stakes gambling.
The challenges are high in this film for both acting and direction. Alan Sorkin, known for his screenwriting that includes movies like Moneyball, The Social Network, A Few Good Men and TV scripts like “Sports Night” and “The West Wing”, takes this fluky biography and makes it work for the big screen. It’s a chancy challenge, but one he smartly casts, directs and gets produced. Not a lot of stories about people get a chance for the big screen without a bit of good luck and Molly’s Game could just find that pot of gold.
In the lead role of Molly, the driven sports figure who took it on the chin by a tenacious father, this is Jessica Chastain’s best performance yet. She crafts her character well making a smart cookie at first, then determined and in the end, well see the movie. From The Help when her career started to blossom to Zero Dark Thirty, it’s been a rollercoaster ride for her, but now she’s at the top of her game with this lead role. She has been nominate for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in Molly’s Game. In her next film, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, she enters the world of superheroes as a shapeshifter. Hmm.
Idris Elba’s performance as Molly’s inquisitive and crafty lawyer is very cool considering the career he has built on mostly action films. I like him here especially because he looks the part and does a good job in support to make the film work. I especially enjoyed the banter between his character and Molly as they set up the arguments for her day in court.
Molly’s Game has been rated R for language, drug content and some violence. The violence is a brutal beating that looks very real and gets gory. The film runs a bit long at 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it’s surely worth it. Molly’s accident on the ski slope looks very real and could make some people squeamish.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A well-acted and directed film with a strong cast and storyline.
Additional Film Information
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd
Directed and screenplay by: Alan Sorkin
Genre: Biography, Drama
MPAA Rating: R for language, drug content and some violence
Running Time: 2 hrs. 20 min.
Release Date: January 5, 2018
Distributed by: STXfilms