Molly’s Game (2017)
Directed by: Aaron Sorkin | 141 minutes | biography, drama | Actors: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd, JC MacKenzie, Brian d’Arcy James, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Justin Kirk, Angela Gots, Natalie Krill, Stephanie Herfield, Madison McKinley, Joe Keery, Michael Kostroff, Claire Rankin, Victor Serfaty
Aaron Sorkin has the gift of translating subjects that are initially not too ‘cinemagenic’ into a smooth scenario. A bone-dry court drama such as ‘A Few Good Men’ (1992), internet-related topics such as the rise of Facebook in ‘The Social Network’ (2010) and the life of Apple founder Steve Jobs in the film named after him from 2015 and the statistical approach to elite sport in ‘Moneyball’ (2011); Sorkin knows how to make it a smooth and fascinating spectacle. Anyone who takes a look at his trophy cabinet – in addition to an Oscar, Sorkin also has two Golden Globes and no fewer than five Prime Time Emmys in the cupboard (the latter for the television series ‘The West Wing’) – understands that Sorkin really knows his trade . No one needs to worry about knowing what to do with the biography of Molly Bloom, the woman who played a pivotal role in an extensive illegal poker network in Los Angeles and New York. When her empire was rolled up, countless movie stars, athletes and businessmen were called to the fore. Bloom himself got off miraculously with a year’s probation and a $1,000 fine. While other filmmakers might focus on the tension surrounding the poker game itself, Sorkin, who also makes his directorial debut with ‘Molly’s Game’ (2017), focuses entirely on Molly Bloom, who as a woman in a man’s stronghold managed surprisingly well. hold.
Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) grows up in the American state of Colorado, where she is taught by her tough yet loving father (Kevin Costner) that she will not be messed with. In her youth she especially asserts herself on the ski slopes; she has a promising career on the US Olympic ski team. But then she makes such a huge blow that she sees her Olympic dream go up in smoke in one fell swoop. She does not finish the law school she started. She leaves for Los Angeles to look for a job there. She is eventually hired at a shady real estate agency, where her boss (Jeremy Strong) introduces her to the world of illegal poker. While she initially acts as an assistant, she soon realizes that she might as well start for herself. When her former boss’s clients “cross over” to her poker club, Molly has definitely established her name as the poker queen of Hollywood. Movie stars, top athletes, bankers and other ‘tall trees’ – names aren’t mentioned, but if you really want to know which celebrities were sitting at Molly’s poker table, you can consult Google – play for huge sums. Molly stands her ground and makes sure she is always in control. She also manages to expand her empire to New York, where she gets the rich people of Wall Street and the members of the Russian mafia at her table. Her poker stronghold lasts for eight years, until that one FBI raid brings the whole house down like a house of cards.
Aaron Sorkin’s films are known for their deluge of witty dialogue and ‘Molly’s Game’ is also full of it. Just like with tricks such as flashbacks and voice-overs, by the way. Sorkin gets away with using them effectively. Strong female roles are few and far between, especially those in which women manage to hold their own in a world that belongs to men. No wonder Chastain immediately snapped. Without throwing her body into the fray – although she does rely on her charm and her femininity – Molly Bloom surreptitiously manages to conquer her place. While Jessica Chastain doesn’t necessarily have the image that lends itself to this role, she does get her teeth into it and portray the title character in a convincing and ruthless manner. With verve she strings together the many voice-overs and draws us into the story. She faces strong resistance from the likes of Idris Elba as her lawyer, who suspects Molly has more on her plate than she’s arguing for, and good old Kevin Costner, who plays a crucial role in his daughter’s character development. Nice supporting roles include Michael Cera, who symbolizes the Hollywood actors involved in the scandal, and Chris O’Dowd as the man who brings Molly into contact with the Russian underworld and thereby indirectly heralds her downfall.
Sorkin’s directorial debut is one by the book. A captivating biography that quickly chronicles the rise and fall of the poker queen of Hollywood, with sharp dialogue, fast editing and convincing roles. Jessica Chastain shows yet again why she is one of the best actresses of her generation; her Molly Bloom is a heroine with a solid fringe. Though “heroine” may not be quite the right word, as Sorkin shows no compassion when Molly’s connections to the Russian mafia endanger her. However, she has an amazing resilience, which gives her the strength to start over again and again. For that reason alone, this woman fascinates beyond measure. ‘I don’t trust anyone’, is her credo. She also – apart from her family – doesn’t really allow anyone into her private life, out of self-protection. It is precisely this armor of apparent inviolability that makes her vulnerable and human. Sorkin does not pass judgment on her, her dubious practices and the way she gets away with it, but shows the abuses of our society, in which we accept everything from men indiscriminately and women are directly taunted.