Molly’s Game tells the true story of Molly Bloom, a young, Olympic-class skier who is arrested by the FBI after nearly a decade of running exclusive high stakes poker games in Los Angeles and New York. Jessica Chastain plays Molly, and Idris Elba plays Charlie Jaffey, her criminal defense lawyer who reluctantly takes the job at first but realizes there’s much more to Molly than what he’s heard. Both give strong performances, and writer (now writer-director) Aaron Sorkin does a great job in his directorial debut.
Molly is narrating her own life story as the film begins, and we see her crash horribly at the Olympic skiing trials after a freak accident unsnaps her from one of her skis. You get an early glimpse into the fact that her father Larry (Kevin Costner) was very tough on Molly and her two brothers growing up.
Anyways, that ends her skiing career and she soon moves to Los Angeles to take some time off before heading to law school, another decision her father doesn’t approve of. Before we get to that though, we flash to present time as Molly is sleeping in her apartment when the FBI busts in and arrests her for running an illegal gambling ring. She says she hasn’t run a game in two years.
Back to flashbacks, Molly meets producer Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong) while cocktail waitressing at a club and he hires her as his assistant. He asks her to organize a poker game for him one night. Famous actors including Player X (Michael Cera) and other powerful men show up and tip her thousands after the game, and Molly starts to realize how lucrative this business could be. She keeps running the games for Dean until he tells her he’s going to stop paying her as his assistant since she makes so much at the games. If she tries to fight him on it, he’ll take the game away from her. Molly instead moves the game secretly to the Four Seasons Hotel and shuts Dean out.
Back in the present day, Molly meets with Charlie Jaffey who eventually agrees to take her case. I won’t go any further plot wise, but that’s just the first act of the film.
As to be expected, Sorkin delivers some great dialogue and there are some fantastic monologues by both Chastain and Elba (one scene where Jaffey gives a powerhouse speech to the prosecutors defending Molly’s character and her innocence was especially incredible). The amount of jumping around the film does time-wise is slightly confusing at times, but it mostly works and flows well. Sorkin does a good job behind the camera; it’s a solid first effort directing.
All in all, I found the film to be entertaining, well done, and very interesting. I recommend reading up on Molly Bloom’s story after watching if you don’t know it already. Figuring out who some of the actors and sports stars are in real life that participated in these games was an added bonus and a nice complement to the film. I’m surprised Molly’s Game hasn’t gotten a bit more buzz as it’s one of the finer films I’ve seen this year. Don’t miss it.