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Molly’s Game Movie Review

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It’s a big week for reviews, and next up is Molly’s Game. This slowly became one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Jessica Chastain might be my personal favorite working actress, and I couldn’t wait to see Aaron Sorkin make his directorial debut. He’s one of the best writers in the business, and being one of the few writers who is probably allowed to be on set as much as he wants, he finally gets the chance to run his own set. I hadn’t heard of Molly Bloom before this movie, but hearing a little bit about the film only made me more interested in hearing her story!

Molly’s Game is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, and Chris O’Dowd. Molly Bloom was an Olympic level skier on the cusp of greatness until she had a one-in-a-million accident that ended her career. She decides to move to LA where she gets a job under a Hollywood hot-shot who runs a poker night with some of the most famous names in the nation. When she realizes that she could run her own underground poker ring and exponentially increase her earnings, she does just that and brings in actors, athletes, business tycoons, and members of the mob to play her game.

Aaron Sorkin is known as one of the best writers in Hollywood, and this movie is yet another example of why. Unsurprisingly, his dialogue might be the best thing about the film. Molly’s Game is a dialogue and wit-driven movie, and I love Sorkin dialogue, so the movie worked really well for me. Sorkin never spoon-feeds you or babies you into the complexities of the stories or the characters. He gives you exactly what you need to understand the events and the characters with sufficient details. He also tends to throw you right into the middle of a story and challenges you to catch up, and once you do catch up, the reward is amazing. I also knew everything that I needed to know about Molly Bloom just by watching her interact with other people. This is one of the most interesting and compelling movies I’ve seen this year, and at two hours and twenty minutes of almost pure dialogue, I never felt it drag at all. It never slows down because the writing and the character of Molly are both so fascinating.That brings me to the next thing that I absolutely loved which was Jessica Chastain. Jessica Chastain might just be my favorite working actress, and seeing her take on Aaron Sorkin dialogue is something that I could only dream of as a movie fan. It doesn’t feel like a performance. It feels like Jessica Chastain has become Molly Bloom right in front of our eyes and understands every single emotion and motivation, then channels those directly into her performance. This might sound weird, but I have to go back to a movie from earlier this year called American Made. The stories are similar in that I couldn’t get enough when it came to learning about everything the main character did. The difference was that Molly Bloom was realized as a person whereas I never thought that the main character in American Made was. Molly isn’t just compelling because of the things she does. She’s compelling because of the person she is, and I honestly think that Molly Bloom is one of the few people in the world who could pull this operation off. Idris Elba is also amazing, and his chemistry with Chastain made every single scene with the two work beautifully. I loved their dialogue together as they came to an understanding about each other’s philosophies, and it’s capped by a monologue from Elba that I’m 100% sure will play when they announce his name as an Oscar nominee.

I do think that there’s one scene in the film that feels a little bit forced, out of place, and over-written. Interestingly enough, that seems to be the most common issue that I have with Sorkin’s screenplays. It is a little bit different from usual in that I still think that the scene elicited the exact emotional response that it was going for, but it did feel way too on-the-nose for a Sorkin screenplay. When Sorkin is at his best, there’s no exposition or over-simplification. He tosses you in and you have to find your footing. At his worst, we get a scene that over-simplifies all of the layers and complexities of the story, and it’s a little bit disappointing. I also think that Sorkin can over-direct at certain moments. For a directorial debut I thought he did an excellent job as a confident and clear storyteller, but there are a couple of moments that feel overly-stylized for almost no reason and would have had the same effect had Sorkin stuck to just displaying the story.

Overall, I loved Molly’s Game, and I think it’s one of the most compelling dramas of the year thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue. I know that he has spent a lot of time on-set with extremely talented directors, and seeing him make his directorial debut with Molly’s Game only makes me more excited to see what he does next. Nothing is spoon-fed or served right up for you. You have to digest a good portion of the dialogue and the character development, and Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba both help tremendously. I think they’ll both be nominated for Oscars, and they have incredible chemistry. Molly isn’t just compelling for the things that she does. She’s also compelling because of her personality, wits, smarts, and style, and she’s one of the most well-rounded characters of the year. I do think that Molly’s Game has that one Aaron Sorkin scene that seems to over-simplify everything that I loved as a complex idea, and he does have a few moments that are overly-stylized, but I think this is a great debut from Sorkin as a director and gives us probable Oscar nominations for Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba. I’m going to give Molly’s Game a 9/10.

Will you be seeing Molly’s Game? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm