Molly Bloom, by a really committed Jessica Chastain!, and a real person, says this early on, which proves an important quote: “This is a true story, but except for my own, I’ve changed all the names. I was in a room with movie stars, directors and business titans. They were going all in, all the time. The humiliation had given way to blinding anger at my powerlessness. I wasn’t going to wait before I put a plan in place.”
That’s because it effectively reflects this breezy and insightful account of one woman marking her place within a underground male poker scene, ending up paying a price.
And importantly, Aaron Sorkin as a first-time director as well as the writer, shows enough skill in juggling various intricate elements. He wrote The Social Network and Steve Jobs, which won’t be too much of a surprise given the fast-paced dialogue here. To this extent of intricacy then, Molly’s Game opens while she takes part in a skiing competition, structured around a mixture of voiceover, archive footage, and so on.
The downside of this though comes from how though the film manages a steady propulsion across the first and part of the second act, this eventually becomes a bit boring. Certainly, after Molly breaks her neck during said skiing, works as an office assistant for Dean (a dominating Jeremy Strong), and through him becomes involved in a male poker environment, the pace really commits as she gradually builds her own enterprise. But the pace can feel too clever for its own good, and that’s a shame. On the bright side, the likes of Michael Cera as the creepy Player X and Idris Elba as her lawyer Charlie Jaffey once things go tits up, are great.
By the end the narrative becomes more settled, and it’s when this happens we can definitely look back and say Jessica Chastain at the least was again brilliant, and though Aaron Sorkin didn’t get his directing debut exactly right, shows promise.