Sunday, October 1, 2017

TIFF 17 Film Review - Molly's Game

Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) is competitive having been driven by her psychologist dad (Kevin Costner) who produced three kids with a shot to make the U.S. Olympic ski team. Director Aaron Sorkins first feature film is wordy as expected. Bloom describes her last run to make the U.S. ski team up down forwards and backwards. After crashing out she goes to L.A. ahead of Law School takes the job as an assistant for a sleazy L.A. producer who gets mad at her for picking up the wrong bagels but lets her host his weekly poker game for tips. The underground soiree is THE GAME in L.A. $10,000 buy ins potentially a million changing hands in one night with A-list actors, sports stars financiers, fund managers and moguls in attendance. Bloom studies, learns and two weeks in knows the in's and outs of Hold'em poker positioning herself to swoop in and take the players when the inevitable dispute occurs with her boss.

However she did not see the next blind side coming which lead her two New York, an even larger game (250K Buy-ins) plus now she's taking a rake therefore officially breaking the law. The shady characters increase as does the game's frequency bringing her to the attention of the mob and the feds coupled with her memoir see's her arrested with assets seized a move by the Feds trying to flush her out and give up bigger fish.

Screenwriter Arron Sorkin can talk up a subject. The opening skiing sequence followed by Molly learning the skills of poker are narrative ballets dancing across the screen. With Bloom he found a strong personality to anchor his directorial debut and in Chastain the perfect person to play her. To say the piece is fast paced would be the ultimate understatement. The titular's character's scenes with her lawyer Charley Jaffey (Idris Elba) consist of verbal badminton where he's looking out for her best interest but she is refusing to do anything that she feels is not right to say nothing of the fact his frustration since she can't cover his $250,000 retainer. Sorkin even blows up Psychiatry as a profession when Molly's dad appears in New York to give her all of the answers that would have normally taken three years of psychotherapy to achieve. Chastain continues her run of being the female in an male dominated area where she not only survives but excels.  

Molly's Game is a finely measured maiden outing from a screenwriter that everyone knew would eventually find his way behind the camera. For his maiden outing he is blessed with a strong real life characters and a principal cast filled with acting precision. It's a fresh look at poker, power, wealth and fame that I can definitely recommend.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

Molly's Game | Aaron Sorkin | USA | 2017 | 141 Minutes.

Tags: Voice Over, Biopic, Texas Hold'em, Private Game, Hostess, Tips, Player List, Fund Managers, L.A., New York, Russians, FBI, Poker Princess, Informant, Arrest, Trial, Hard Drive, Sentence.

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