Molly’s Game



21 December 2017| No Comments on Molly’s Game     by Sean Chavel



It has been a great season for actresses, and the distinguishably smart biopic Molly’s Game in particular features Jessica Chastain at the top of her career. It’s a sexy, power-hungry performance about a woman deeply compelled to control rich men under her vice. It was only a brief history ago when Molly Bloom, a failed Olympic skier who became an entrepreneurial poker host to the world’s most affluent entertainment and big business figures, made millions off of tips just for hosting the games but whose earnings were confiscated by the FBI. Molly, dressed sexy and sharp kind of like Erin Brockovich meets Playboy After Dark but with the business savvy of a viper, made a “legal” living for what she did. Yet ticky-tack charges ensued, and what happened after was the FBI bullied Molly so she could rat on Russian Mob associates who were her game players. That led to her gaining an expensive high-retainer lawyer (Idris Elba, doing alpha legal eagle terrifically), because no cheap lawyer would be good enough for this “high-profile” of a case. During Molly’s arraignment, the media painted alternative truths to what Molly was doing with some wrongly assuming that Molly was providing some kind of debauched bacchanal dirty-doings for men with flush pockets.

These were not brothels for the rich and famous! Absolutely not! All Molly provided was an upscale, high-stakes poker game in sleek surroundings and she hosted and oversaw these games. That’s it. Hardly anything to get an uproar for. The movie never skimps on dishy details like how some of the guys would lose a million and a half with money they barely had. And if Molly ever did one thing illegally, it was for raking. What’s that? See the movie and you will know, but it wasn’t just to protect herself, it was to protect the players who bet too much during the heat of the play.

All of this is dramatized with smart, fast-talking scenes that lets its two hour and twenty minutes running time go by in a flash. Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) proves again he’s one of the best dialogue writers and scenarists, and this time, he makes his directorial debut. He surprisingly has a strong cinematic eye. Maybe it’s the surrounding talent he’s working with, but he has crafted scenes that evokes distinctive feelings within a single image. The movie has a high number of distinctively vivid images.

“Molly’s Game” is the kind of movie that I love, a tantalizing docudrama that has rings of psychological insight. The movie asks why did an Olympic hopeful and academic wunderkind decide to get into the gambling underbelly of Los Angeles and New York? After a year there are hints that Molly is tired of it, but is compelled to do it, for reasons outside of the money. Figuring that out is its own puzzle. There are a remarkable number of scenes with Chastain and her sharp-tongued lawyer Elba, with the two of them challenging wits. Sorkin is interested in smart talk, and he’s interested in putting forth a cast of very interesting people. The movie is fascinating.

With Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd, Michael Cera, Bill Camp, Jeremy Strong and Graham Greene. Chastain’s work however is one of the can’t miss it performances of the year.


140 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “The Gambler” (1974); “Croupier” (1998, United Kingdom); “Owning Mahowny” (2003); “Runner Runner” (2013).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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