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Molly’s Game (dir. Sorkin)

Image: Jessica Chastain as the ‘Poker Princess’ © Photograph by Michael Gibson [Source: IMDB]

★★★☆☆

Molly’s Game tells the true story of Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain. An Olympic class skier who found herself running the world’s most exclusive high stakes poker game and became a target for the FBI.

Director: Aaron Sorkin. Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner [15]

Molly’s Game is the latest script and first-time directorial effort from Hollywood legend, Aaron Sorkin. Adapted from the book about the real-life adventure of Molly Bloom this is certainly a film trying to capture the success and imitate Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street (2013). As much can be seen in the tone and direction of the trailer. So does it succeed? In short, no.

Ironically, given that for his first time Sorkin steps up to the directors’ chair – it’s the script that stands out as the weakest link. Throughout the film, I noticed terribly clichéd moments, written as though Sorkin didn’t care about his clever, engaging dialogue from previous works. Which has to be said is still prevalent in this film, despite the unfocused script there is still a great deal of the engaging and sharp dialogue that we have come to expect from Sorkin. Fortunately, he does a good job of directing the film, as mentioned taking a lot of ques from Wolf of Wall Street but not quite matching the character study that Scorsese filled the debauchery fuelled escapades of Jordan Belfort with.

Sorkin instead directs a very thin layered approach to Molly Bloom, giving us some ‘armchair psychology’ as to why Molly Bloom is the way she is, frankly it almost acts as though the audience will eat this up as smart intelligent storytelling. Sorkin furthers this insult with the uninspired soundtrack choices, scenes such as the film explaining why Molly is the way she is, has these blatant scores to inspire emotion, but they just come across as panderingly silly.

Sorkin does do a good job of juggling and pacing the movie, balancing a film that is one part biopic, one part poker movie and one part court drama (which it somehow manages not to be outstanding in any aspect), remarkably though, it all feels like one movie, one story (despite its unfocused nature) and for the most part, this is an engaging tale. It’s plenty funny and the cinematography does a good job of always having Molly as the focus, each shot, no matter where she is in it, it’s as though the camera is always on her. Some of this can be attributed to Jessica Chastain who is compelling and eye-catching as Molly. Idris Elba also acts like a breath of fresh air for the film when he is on-screen, often adding a much-needed vibrancy to the scenes he is in.

Sorkin does an acceptable job of juggling the different facets of Molly’s Game, pulling out fresh visual ideas and a ‘golden age Hollywood’ style of storytelling, sadly not always to its credit and ironically it is his script that has suffered. Unfocused and occasionally lazy, this is not Sorkin’s writing at it’s best but it makes for a decent, engaging tale of Molly Bloom’s adventure into the exclusive world of large stake poker games.

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