There has always been rules that, when writing screenplays, you keep dialogue to a minimum. Your exposition and emotion has to come from imagery and a really, really, good actor. When your watching a movie by Aaron Sorkin, however, that rule is thrown out the window. The TV and film television writer has produced fast speaking pieces such as The Newsroom, A Few Good Men, The West Wing, and the immutable Steve Jobs.
Now Sorkin takes up the mantel of director in Molly’s Game which is a prime example of his dialogue heavy writing.
Starring Jessica Chastain in the titular role, Molly’s Game revolves around Olympic-class skier Molly Bloom who drops out of the sport after a terrible accident. So, naturally, her next career choice is to become a poker game runner, dealing with high-rollers, famous actors, directors, and more. However, when the FBI indite her for her unwilling involvement with the Russian Mafia, she hires and together criminal defence lawyer Charlie Jaffey, the pair have to fight the charges as well as the defamation from the tabloid press. Can Molly clear her name?
Sorkin’s work here as director is impressive as he produces a highly energetic drama that flits through the underbelly of the gambling world that Molly grew into a multi-million dollar business. Sorkin provides insightful knowledge and impressive fast talk that is a staple of his work. The director deals an ultimately good film that teeters on excellence if it weren’t for the unlikeability of the character’s work.
Similarly to The Big Short, when tackling money, it is hard to feel any sympathy for people involved. Here is similar: gambling and poker are destructive entities that, even though Molly has manipulated the game to her will and still attempts to steer people away from falling through pit-falls, it is tricky to feel anything for anyone involved. Unlike movies that deal with the dangers of gambling such as the brilliantly underrated Mississippi Grind, Molly’s Game deals with this rather privileged woman who played a complex career that Sorkin chooses to speed through. When it’s hard to empathise with the main character and story, it’s tricky to find anything enjoy about the film, even if you appreciate it’s cleverness and dialogue fun.
Jessica Chastain is a popular and brilliant actress who tackles Molly with a great amount of gusto. She does save a large majority of the film because she is compelling in some way. Whilst the overall presence of Molly is off-putting, it’s Chastain’s brilliant talent that pulls you in. Brilliant as always, Chastain does offer some excellence to the proceedings. Idris Elba and Kevin Costner make admirable side additions to the film as Jaffey and Molly’s father respectively. But this is Chastain’s Game and any other player is moot.
Molly’s Game is a good film but it suffers from never truly adding much depth to the main characters and the subject matter being damn near uninteresting. That being said, the film is great for poker enthusiasts and to see Chastain shine.
Molly’s Game is out New Year’s Day