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Molly’s Game: Movie Review

Aaron Sorkin has written some fantastic screenplays, (“A Few Good Men”, “The Social Network”, “Moneyball”) just to name a few. With Sorkin makes his directorial debut with “Molly’s Game”.  The film is based on the true story of Olympic-class skier Molly Bloom who went on to host the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game, and in turn became an FBI target.

Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) came from a family with high expectations. Her father (Kevin Costner) pushed her hard to become an Olympic skier like her brother. Even with a spine operation, Molly was hitting the snow hard. Years later Molly would relocate to Los Angeles and begin working for Dean (Jeremy Strong) as a personal assistant by day and high-stakes poker hostess by night.  These poker games included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans, and more.  When Dean decides he no longer wants to pay Molly a weekly salary and have her just live on tips, while working both day and night, she winds up starting her own high-stakes poker game and taking all Deans players in the process.

After a falling out in L.A. with one of her main players (Michael Cera), Molly lost her game and opened one up in New York. Because some of the players that Molly hosted were Russian Mafia, she became a target for the FBI who want information that only she can provide. This is where she enlists the help of criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who takes her case even though all her money has been frozen by the FBI.

“Molly’s Game” features a fantastic performance from Chastain, with good supporting turns from Elba and Cera.  I also loved Brian d’Arcy James as the terrible poker player referred to as Bad Brad. Much like most of Sorkin’s work, the writing here is solid but the problem lies mostly in the direction.  He has written not only some great films, but also acclaimed series like “The Newsroom” and “The West Wing”.  He probably should have tried to direct a few episodes on any of the various shows he has written before making his debut on a film like this.  I am in no way saying “Molly’s Game” is bad, far from it.  This is a pretty decent bio-pic but it could have been so much better. Running at 140 minutes, the film movies along very slowly. Even with everything that is good, it just felt overly long and somewhat boring at times.  I believe Sorkin has what it takes to deliver a good film, he just needs a little more time.

By: Marc Ferman