Molly’s Game (2017)


Cast includes: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim), Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures)
Director: Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network)
Genre: Drama | Biography (140 minutes) Based on a book by Molly Bloom


Huffington Post

Some people say the worst thing that can happen in sports is getting 4th place in the Olympics. But Molly Bloom would take issue with that. Growing up in Colorado, her very demanding father had her on skis almost as soon as she could walk. Molly wasn’t just athletic, she was smart, too... analyzing every detail of the course, the conditions and her performance with mathematical precision. But at age 12, she had serious spinal surgery and was told she’d never ski again. By age 13, she was skiing competitively again. When her skiing career ended abruptly for good, she wanted to experience living in a warm place, so she headed to Hollywood, where she crashed on a friend’s sofa until she could get on her feet again. Twelve years later, she is awakened at 5:00 AM by the FBI. She’s under arrest for running an illegal gaming operation. What? That makes no sense… she hasn’t run a game in 2 years.

In flashbacks, we learn about Molly’s life and her introduction to high stakes poker. Just for organizing games, she can live very well on tips. But Molly is smart… she learns everything about the game and the players. When she is double crossed, she comes out ahead… not by being crocked, but by being smart. And now that she’s under arrest, she wants a lawyer “who isn’t even a little bit shady.” Charlie Jaffey isn’t sure he wants Molly Bloom, "the Poker Princess," as a client. People who run games can be shady, and he can’t quite figure out what to make of Molly. Two years ago when she stopped running the game, she wrote a book. That book serves as Charlie’s window into who Molly is, as the flashbacks continue. In a surprise decision, Charlie decides to take on Molly’s case because some of her clients were serious criminals... she is going to need help.

The movie is based on a book by Molly Bloom. There is much about the movie to enjoy… the acting, production and dialog by Aaron Sorkin, who also directs the film. Aaron Sorkin became famous for his fast-paced, edgy dialog when he was the writer for The West Wing. For his directorial debut, however, he should have chosen better material. The story feels as if it is missing something, such as truth and complexity. Molly Bloom’s account seems very shallow, which is often the case with autobiographies. There aren’t many authors who are willing to write about themselves in a fully honest and unbiased way. Molly Bloom made a living in a world of unsavory characters, yet based on her account; she never had even a momentary brush with ethical or moral ambiguity. She didn’t collect money she was owed because she didn’t want to hurt anyone. (Oh, please!) She never did anything illegal in her gaming operations, and it looks like she lived a life free of romance or sexual encounters… despite her very sexy style of dressing. It doesn’t ring true. On the surface, the story probably seemed appealing, and Aaron Sorkin was obviously able to attract excellent actors. But the film is quite unremarkable. At one point Charlie asks, “Why are you not telling the whole story?” That’s the question I asked when it was over after nearly 2.5 hours… it would have made a much better story if it had been less about preserving Molly Bloom’s spotless reputation.

popcorn rating

2 popped kernels

True story of Molly Bloom, arrested by the FBI for running a high-stakes poker game

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Crime)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Bold
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Zips Right Along
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Poker Princess story
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment & Informative

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