Molly's Game (2017) Poster


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Clinically sharp
borromeot14 December 2017
The focus is clear and yet cold and distant unless Idris Elba is on the frame. He is a human with his complexities but without barriers. He is open, accessible. Jessica Chastain is a technical marvel to be admired but it is hard, very hard to warm up to her. I felt I needed to see in her what Idris Elba saw and I could do it with my head but not my heart. In any case, it is a brilliant performance. Aaron Sorkin writes and directs this time with remarkable self confidence. The film, like the script is clinically sharp, surgical actually. I bet it's also a great read. For Aaron Sorkin's fans and I count myself as one, this is a must.
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Chastain is a knockout
sierralouie13 May 2018
Molly's Game works as well as it does due to the sheer vitality of Jessica Chastain's performance. As an actor, she isn't the most overt emoter, and she doesn't need to be. She manages to draw an incredible amount of empathy out of her characters, always in control but willing to let the cracks in the armor show. She is one of the most remarkably restrained, yet emotionally potent, actors in Hollywood. She excels at taking these strong, resolute women through hell and back, coming out stronger and more complex while being very aware of the gender dynamics of her characters. Molly Bloom is by necessity steely and crafty, but she is also a human being in a world that oftentimes has no regard for humanity. As Bloom, Chastain is a scorching force of nature with a hell of a wardrobe. It's easy to praise her more dramatic moments later in the film, but watch her every move during her initial rise to power. You want to root for Molly as she begins to learn, as she faces disrespect from her boss, as she gains more and more confidence.

Chastain and Elba give fiery performances that help the film retain some of its shine as it moves toward its conclusion. Shoutout to Camp, d'Arcy James, and Cera for their small but solid roles. The film overall is a bit too long and does inspire some fatigue, but the story is engaging enough and Chastain is an absolute star. There's nothing particularly remarkable about the way the film is constructed, but it manages to keep you reasonably entertained.
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Jessica Chastain nails her role
TheTopDawgCritic18 January 2018
I don't think Molly Bloom could have been cast any better than with Jessica Chastain... she nailed her role. Oddly enough, she looks similar to the actual Molly Bloom.

Great film, love the fact this is based on a true story, and what a great story it was. The rest of the cast were great and the directing was decent, although too much back and forth between many timelines.

8.5 rounded up to 9/10 from me for Chastain's excellent performance.
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Chock full of Sorkinian glibness, biopic goes south in the end
PotassiumMan31 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut about the Olympic skier Molly Bloom, a brilliant over-achiever who chose to forego law school to become a gambling entrepreneur, is a compelling film that starts out very strong. Even with its lengthy running time, it's never slow or uninvolving. It's gripping and fascinating throughout, thanks to Sorkin's master penmanship at keeping the dialogue and tempo of the film at a heady pace.

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba both give dynamic performances here. Elba makes a great presence as the defense attorney who tries to grapple with the sheer size and scope of Bloom's considerable legal problems as her gambling operation becomes progressively more mired in the criminal world. Even if you find Chastain's character cold and detached, her performance here is strikingly realistic.

Alas, we have the film's ending. Where the film goes wrong is this highly far-fetched and phony attempt to humanize Bloom beginning with a chance encounter with her father at a skating rink in Central Park. A corny scene does not sink a film all by itself, but unfortunately this scene was followed up with an equally ridiculous courtroom sequence that struck me as unduly and comically political. It's always a shame for a film to look first-rate for most of the way only to collapse in the final act. Recommended mostly on the strength of the performances, even if the film as a whole misses the mark in the end.
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Less a dramatic movie than an illustrated Podcast
gortx7 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
If you ever wanted to know what a video illustrated Podcast would be like -- then MOLLY'S GAME is the movie for you. Jessica Chastain stars and narrates as Molly Bloom, a former Olympic skier who found herself as a Poker madam who ran ultra-high stakes underground gambling games in L.A. and New York. The high priced events attracted Hollywood celebrities, wealthy financiers, baseball players and the mob. Chastain/Bloom narrates and narrates and narrates. When not narrating, we are given picayune details on gambling, the law, what exact drinks are being served and the ins and out of skiing. Chastain is a wonderful actress, but, she doesn't possess the most proficient narration voice. But, of course, the real 'voice' here is not the actresses, but writer (and first time) director Aaron Sorkin's. It's all very much delivered in his trademark fast rhythms and idiosyncrasies. Sorkin should have just cut out the middle-man and done the narration himself. Sorkin is obviously a gifted writer, but, Sorkingthe DIRECTOR fails him here. In the past, fine filmmakers like David Fincher, Danny Boyle and Mike Nichols knew that as good as the writing is, you also have to show the audience what is happened. Instead, we are told what has happened, what is happened and what will happen. We are told what the characters are not only thinking, but what they are about to do. The effect is suffocating. The viewer is given little to chance to take a breath, let alone enjoy the drama.

What makes the Direction so unfortunate, is that the true story of Molly Bloom is inherently interesting. Along with Chastain (who delivers a solid performance despite it all), there are fine actors like Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Graham Greene and many others in the cast. But, Sorkin's over-reliance on narration squelches the drama. Oddly, about 3/4 of the way through the 140 minute movie, the narration subsides substantially. Almost two hours in - and we suddenly shift into what resembles a normal motion picture. Those final scenes may not be great, but, at least one can appreciate what the actors are doing without being told in advance every nuance. Finally, there's Sorkin's well known disdain for keeping to the facts of the true story. The central metaphor for the movie how Bloom had a tragic accident that ended her career sending her life into disorder. But, the real Molly Bloom never had a Wide World of Sports style "agony of defeat" fall. Sorkin pulled it out his ass. Nobody is dumb enough to believe that a Hollywood movie with big stars is going to tell the full unvarnished truth, but Sorkin is a serial abuser. Instead of the usual movie disclaimer: "Although based on a true story, some events and characters have been changed for dramatic purposes" - Sorkin's disclaimer should read: "This is fiction, but, but some true events have been included to sell this to the public". Also, Bloom did not have a tough but powerful black Attorney by her side with a cute precocious child (which just so happens to closely mirror the young Molly Bloom who - you guessed it! - was also a cute precocious child).

Much of this wouldn't matter so much if MOLLY'S GAME worked better as a movie. Unfortunately, it's all tell without much show.
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One of my favorites of 2017
bhodso28 January 2018
I was absolutely mesmerized by this tale of Molly, a woman who was obsessed at being the best at anything she did whether that was Olympic skiing or controlling the seedy underworld of high stakes Poker.

Jessica Chastain is incredible as Molly Chastain. She makes the character feel real, holds the camera's attention, and helps us to understand the underlying motivations behind Molly's actions.

I particularly liked the chemistry between Idris Elba (who plays Molly's lawyer Jaffey). Their scenes are some of the most electric in the way they play off each other's emotions and spar with the great dialogue barbs Aaron Sorkin wrote so wonderfully.

Speaking of Aaron Sorkin, for a first time director, he absolutely knocks this out of the park. He conferred with his friend & director David Fincher on strategies for shooting this film along the way and he go great advice because the innovative camera angles, control of time (a key sign that a director knows what they are doing), and assured pacing make this one of the most enrapturing and compelling dramas of 2017.
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It kept me fused ass to chair, eyes to screen for the entire duration!
paulcheus28 January 2018
Saw the movie last night, one of the best movies (if not THE BEST) I seen for some time now. All the characters are razor sharp, the entire dialog pierces your brain like an ice pick, great humor, great sarcasm, snappy lines, you feel like you need more and more during the movie (gets you addicted like a bad habit). One of the best discussions in cinema history (the therapy scene). Go see it in cinema, the crowd effect amplifies the emotions. My mark for this is 8/10 , 10/10 been an absolute masterpiece made every hundred years or so :))
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A True Tall Tale of High Stakes
Serge_Zehnder7 October 2017
Nothing comes close to the rush of winning, at least according to those who have succeeded where others have failed. Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) managed to become a millionaire with a dose of luck, will and endless street smarts. The former professional skier ran high stakes poker-games in Los Angeles and New York and found herself in the middle of a federal investigation, where she was accused of colluding with organized crime.

Being a sucker for great stories of real life characters, it is easy to see what Aaron Sorkin saw in the very true tale of Molly Bloom. The American ethos of being No. 1 combined with the isolation and principles of its heroine make "Molly's Game" a tremendous playing field for Sorkin's directorial debut.

Even though he has dealt with themes of power, loyalty and the darker side of entrepreneurial endeavors in "The Social Network", "Newsroom", "Steve Jobs" and "Moneyball", what sets this story apart is that Sorkin chooses to layer the rise-and-fall of the titular character with questions about business morals and the loss of a more principled economic system, that has been washed away by fast-buck artists and fatalistic devil-may-care attitudes.

"Molly's Game" has a speedy pace, marvelous performances by both Chastain and Idris Elba, as her lawyer, and is directed with a sure hand. Which makes Sorkin's first directorial outing a joy to watch.

It's two-hour-plus running time glides by like a breeze and ends on a corny yet truthful note about the virtues of failure, that is a glimmer of hope in times of struggle, as well as one of the tenets of screen writing.

The fight, the hustle and the failure never end, but then again, so do the rewards in their own funny way. You win some, you lose some, and Sorkin never seems to forget how close he is to the edge.
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Look at all my words
ianenderby7 May 2018
Let me start by saying that I absolutely LOVE Aaron Sorkin. I really enjoy the movies he's written and his television shows are among my all time favorites. In fact, I have even said on more than one occasion that I believe that his name will go down in the history of great American writers along with people like Mark Twain.

I am also a big fan of Jessica Chastain, of poker and of writer/directors. So, as you can imagine, I was very excited for this movie, especially when I heard that Mr. Sorkin would be making his directorial debut.

Unfortunately, it seems that not all directors can/should write and that, at least this writer, can't direct. I know that it is his first time in the chair, but he has been in the business for over 25 years and has had the opportunity and privilege to work with some true masters of the craft. Yet he managed to fall into what is possibly the biggest trap for someone in his position by ignoring one of the basic rules of the medium: "Show, don't tell.".

This movie had more voice over narration that I've EVER heard in another film before. Don't get me wrong, when done properly I think this device can be extremely useful for both efficiently moving the story forward and effectively creating emotional investment and impact. This was not the case in Molly's Game.

Aaron's words didn't have any of their normal spark or edge. There was no music to the language. The voice over and the dialogue were both incredibly flat and unengaging. The words themselves weren't even that interesting, there were just so many of them and with every additional one it made the last that much less significant. I haven't read the book that this screenplay was adapted from, but at times I wondered if entire sections of the narration weren't just being read verbatim from it.

I really think I could have closed my eyes and just listened to this "movie" and got about 80-90% of the experience. Honestly, the only visual element Sorkin seemed willing or capable of paying any attention too were the lead actresses admittedly lovely curves that were so frequently highlighted in the vast array of expensive dresses she wore throughout the film. I'm certainly not opposed to a little female based visual stimulation, but it isn't really the type of "smart" content I've come to expect and adore from one of my favorite creators.

It seems that I am in the minority with these opinions and I hope that those of you who would disagree with me were able to take something meaningful from this film because I was just left wondering why I just spent nearly two and a half hours of my time enduring a film that barely grabbed by attention once.

Here's hoping that this was a minor glitch in an otherwise stellar career and not a sign of things to come.
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A movie without harmony
VisualConnoisseur30 November 2017
Molly's Game feels like a movie without the center of gravity. It tries to carry itself on overanalysed, emotionally insignificant environmental details. Methodologically explained poker games are captivating the first few times, but get incredibly dull and underwhelming in the second half of the movie, feeling like redundant content. The protagonist is unable to pull the overexplained and "all over the place" narrative into one harmonious puzzle. When at the end Molly and her father discuss the memories of the past, the movie attempts to have a significant emotional culmination but ends with nothing more but a shallow and uninspired moral of the story - check the path before you follow it.

I would give this movie two stars, but there are some solid performances (especially from Idris Elba). Therefore my score is 4.
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Dumbed down; the book was much better
thebricks6 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
It was sad to see how much this movie was dumbed down from the book. There was lots of great material in the book. The main focus should have been on how Molly organized the games and who was involved. However, the director felt that adding Kevin Costner and Idris Elba's characters and the skiing subplot was more important than actually telling the story faithfully. There was so much detail about what went into setting up the games and they totally ignored it and actually invented other things. Like for example, I do not think the drug problem was even in the book, and if it was, it didn't mess her up that badly. It's like the actual games and the celebrities involved were an afterthought. Without the names of the celebrities involved, the story had less of an impact. They were just Hollywood C-List actors and extras. Tobey Maguire also got a total pass, they went light on him in the movie; I can't believe they didn't even include the Shufflemaster debacle and worse yet, the time he demanded she bark like a seal for a tip.

A friend of mine that's big into film raved about the film because other people have, but as someone that read the book, I just thought it was awful. I can't recommend it.
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Molly's Game - Starring Jessica Chastain's cleavage.
Sleeper-Cell20 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
An Olympic standard skier injures herself and her entire life changes. Everything she has worked towards is no longer possible. She takes a job as a waitress and then falls into an underworld of speakeasy type high stakes poker games which of course are illegal.

Sounds intriguing and exciting, right? Well, not when you watch the film, they somehow make it all look rather dull. We see games being organized and Molly being hit on. The film looks a bit like a trailer or music video. Things are happening, well mostly the same thing over and over really. The games are run in a very straight forward manner, none of the characters are very engaging.

When the investigation process starts I found myself still not caring. Jessica Chastain wears a lot of dresses which expose a lot of cleavage. Her cleavage should have received top billing here. Nothing else really mattered.

What should have been an awesome story, just wasn't at all.
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verbose and boring true crime biography
dromasca14 February 2018
Americans love the true crime genre. The big bookstores in the US have dedicated true crime books sections. Many of the Hollywood or independent films are based on true crime stories, biographies and memoirs of people who walked on the wrong side of the law. Good and bad books, good and bad films. "Molly's Game" (written for the screen and directed by Aaron Sorkin and based on the auto-biographical book written by Molly Bloom) is a good example of how short is the distance between the good ones and the bad ones.

Molly Bloom is a real person, born in 1978. She spent much of her childhood and teen years in sports training, she was a skier and Olympic aspirant, but jer sports career was cut short by an accident. Shortly after that event she became involved in the high-stakes poker games, at the edge of the law. While the money that the games she organized went up, her life spiraled down, she became involved in a big scandal and lawsuit involving the mafia, accused of money laundering and organizing illegal gambling. The whole operation fell apart during a big FBI crush-down on illegal games and gambling. The film describes her ascending and downfall, the inquiry and the trial during which she refused to become a state witness, preferring to plead guilty and eventually avoiding a prison sentence.

Much of the film relies on acting performance of Jessica Chastain. She does a find job in describing a woman of character and ambition, who makes the wrong choices at several moments of her life, but finds the inner strength to assume responsibility and change the path of her own destiny. Unfortunately, Chastain's acting is not enough to save the film. Much of the screen time (which exceeds two hours) is spent in legalities and technical details about poker. You can follow these for a couple of times by a couple of minutes, but here they come back for almost all the duration of the movie. The second aspect that I did not like was the way the film describes the building of the relationship between Molly and her lawyer. There are several dialogs written by script author Aaron Sorkin that filmed director Aaron Sorkin liked so much that he forced the actors to declaim them at high pace, almost with no break for breathing. They looked to me theatrical and not credible. Another weak part in the script was the psychoanalytic explanation of Molly's choices which we get in a teary scene by the end of the film that contains a discussion between the hero and her father, who happens to be a clinical psychologist. The fact that the role is played by Kevin Costner did not help either, this is for Costner another bad choice among many that he made in his career.

"Molly's Game" is probably close to the book and may be faithful to the real events which happened quite recently. They may have actual resonance which may be enough for a TV documentary drama but it is not enough to make of it a good feature film. Hints to real persons, actors or other celebrities are not relevant, especially for for international audiences. In the absence of true drama or characters evolution, we are served with a lot of legal and poker technicalities, and with a conventional and melodramatic view of the whole story. The result is verbose and boring, and seems even longer than its 140 minutes of screen time.
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Huh? Was that it?
elljay23418 January 2018
All very good, totally believable actors and a true story, but that the film ended where it did left me wondering after having been through everything that happened what should we take away and I'm not sure. Maybe it will dawn on me after a day or two...
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Thrilling hand but with a few bad cards
TwistedMango4 December 2017
After suffering a horrific accident at a national skiing contest, Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) gives up her Olympic dreams and moves to LA. While working as a cocktail waitress she meets arrogant real estate agent Dean (Jeremy Strong), and agrees to become his assistant.

Her duties include setting up his lucrative weekly poker game, which hosts some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Soon she has cut Dean loose, and is hosting huge stake matches in Los Angeles and New York. As her own personal fortune increases so does the attentions of the IRS and the criminal underworld towards her and her game.

Director and co-writer Aaron Sorkin starts the film well, with a well executed and wince- inducing freestyle skiing sequence. From here we are in LA, and the poker sequences are fluid and engrossing in a Goodfellas style that is indebted to Scorsese without being derivative in a manner of American Hustle. There is plenty of fluid camera movement and excellent visualizations of poker hands, and Sorkin is able to use simple things like shot- reverse shot in a creative manner. Sorkin has added some electricity to this most unfilmable of sports, showing Rounders how it should be done.

Jessica Chastain looks phenomenal throughout, and credit should be given to a costume department that varies a wide range of stunning outfits. It's clear she dominates the room and hypnotizes these powerful men, whose extravagance and indifference to extreme wealth is intoxicating to watch (a highlight is when one player tries to leave a Monet painting as collateral).

Bill Camp puts in a great performance as Harlan Eustice, a seemingly competent poker player who starts to feel the heat. Stealing the pot is Player X as played by Michael Cera. Here he is using his youthful demeanour as a mask for a wicked personality, his most malevolent role since Francois of Youth In Revolt.

This is a first directorial effort of prolific screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and it is with a certain irony that one of the weakest elements to Molly's Game is the script. There is an undue focus on voice-over and an only fleetingly involving legal case in which Molly is wrapped up in years after her stint as a hostess has ended.

The real high stakes finale happens as Molly's empire starts to crumble. That an audience is left with a resolution filled with hokey courtroom drama and cloying family moments between her and her father (Kevin Costner) afterwards dulls the film. Sorkin seems to have made the same mistake as Molly Bloom; thinking that being in an interesting environment makes you an interesting person outside of it.

Another key difference between Sorkin here and Scorsese's best work is the score. It is ordinary throughout, except in the legal cases when it is also bogged down by dull, obvious cues. While Molly's account of a poker world few of us have seen before captivate regardless, the music is another dud element in repetitive legal scenes.

What was amusing is that Molly's lawyers are played by Michael Kostroff who starred in The Wire as lawyer Maurice Levy, and Idris Elba who was criminal/wannabe businessman Stringer Bell in the same series. This footnote aside, I found nothing of particular interest in this chunk of the plot, which leaves the whole work dangerously close to a flop.

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Captivating from start to finish
dophungducanh4 February 2019
What I like: 1. The movie is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and you could hardly tell. The story is so well-narrated and well-told, the dialogues are so interesting that I was glued to the screen the entire time 2. I never knew Jessica Chastain is that hot. Like, smoking, burning, almost distracting hot. Gotta applaud the stylists too; the makeup and clothing were top notch. 3. The park bench scene is one of the more moving scenes I have seen in recent times. 4. I learned a thing or two about poker.
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A true story that leaves you cold
mr_lucaspaul22 January 2018
This is apparently a true story, Molly was raised by a father who had high expectations for his kids, he wanted them to be overachievers, so hard work, competition were the rules, but his daughter applied these rules to a very different field than the one expected by her father. Unfortunately this story fall flat for the simple fact that it is hard to find anybody that you can sympathize with. Her father is far from kind and loving to his daughter, he seems to see her as a product to manufacture and send in the stratosphere of the successful elite, sport or business, all for his own gratification and well, Molly just think about making money in this unusual field in fact reflecting the ambition of her father. Obviously she will end up in sticky situations with dubious people. So, well filmed, well played but nothing to involve you emotionally.
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The narration is terribly annoying...and it is through the entire movie.
hpcmakeup3 February 2018
Molly's Game could have been interesting but it is so slow and has so many pointless scenes. then other parts are random and her driver being her friend and meeting the Russians...and then other parts are so dragged out...skiing at the beginning and every scene with her dad, Kevin Costner, that the movie is a complete mess. I'm surprised I mad it through the whole movie. And honestly the ending is ridiculous, the acting gets really bad and you just keep saying, is it over yet??
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Underwhelming Directorial Debut
M_Exchange3 January 2018
The San Fransisco movie reviewer phrased it very well when he wrote, "at a certain point, everyone watching this movie will ask, 'why should I care about any of this?'" The question hangs in the air very early during the film, and it's never really answered-- at least not in the 1 1/2 hours that I watched it. Yeah, I bailed.

I think that it sits currently at 7.6 on this site and 80% on Rotten Tomatoes because so many people WANT Sorkin's directorial debut to be great... But it's just.... not.

Molly brags about her accomplishments and her intelligence throughout the movie (yes, the braggadocio is boring in itself) , but in the end she just exploited simple concepts from someone who she describes as an "idiot." Alright... So you supposedly put off attending law school at an Ivy League school to put yourself in the feds' cross-hairs with this "idiot's" schemes? Brilliant.

There are also the lacking technical aspects of the editing and camerawork such as the ESPN-like side panels when the guys are playing poker. The minutiae and graphics are mind-numbingly boring to novices and professionals alike. Jessica Chastain does voice over while they play with so much garrulity and monotony. It would have been much easier just to SHOW the game. Instead of, "Max thinks that Jake has a jack, which would give him two of a kind, but Jake is overselling his bluff a bit too much which tipped off Max and made him--" just show it. We can see it: "That dude had a great hand, but he tipped it off, so the other guy folded." Wow. So complicated. It doesn't require paragraphs.

There is also dull legalistic minutiae in which Molly is showcasing her intellect and supposedly correcting her own lawyer in the process. Again, who cares? She didn't want to actually apply that intellect in the way that her lawyer did, so now she must pay millions to him instead. Wow. Brilliant.

The acting is shaky. Jessica Chastain is undeniably sexy, but she has all of the charisma of a DMV worker. For me, she just can't pull off leading lady.

I majored in psychology, so I want to conclude this review by stating that it's ironic that Sorkin focused on the minutiae of poker and the law, but he is apparently lost on the details of my science. At one point when Molly is an adolescent she says to her father that she thinks that Freud was a "moron" and a "quack." Her father bristles at these insults and says something like, "I'M NOT A QUACK." Well, although I respect Freud immensely and most of the theories of modern psychology are derived from his theories, even during the early '90s (when I assume this exchange occurred) few psychologists were heavily invested in the Freudian paradigm. I don't know why so many writers think that psychologists are obsessed with Freudian ideas. Anyway, this film is a sh** show.
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Sorkin and Chastain Flourish in this Fun, Fast-paced Ride
Jared_Andrews3 February 2018
As is the case with all Aaron Sorkin movies, Molly's Game (based on a true story) pummels you with sharp, rapid-fire verbal jabs. Sorkin confidently dances circles around you, dizzying you with repartee, occasionally dropping your jaw with powerful verbal combinations. His scripts come at you aggressively. He hopes to leave you dazzled by the speed and impact of the dialogue, and he succeeds.

As a first-time director, he delivers the same speed and ferocity with the creative camera work and cuts in the opening scene of Molly's Game. The sequence is a whirlwind of clever explanations through narration and visuals. Immediately it becomes clear-this guy knows what he's doing behind the camera.

The remainder of the first hour zooms along in a similarly spectacular fashion. Jessica Chastain shines as Molly Bloom, the poker princess. She exhibits the class, composure, and tenacity required of someone who ran the most elegant poker games in the country for billionaires, athletes, and actors. And, most importantly, she smoothly rattles off all the light-speed Sorkin dialogue in a natural-sounding cadence. The movie doesn't work without the perfect actress playing Molly. Chastain is perfect.

While Chastain delivers her powerhouse performance with swagger, Idris Elba (playing her fictitious lawyer), falls a bit flat. I don't blame Elba, who has consistently proven to be a more than capable performer. His part feels underwritten. As skilled as Sorkin as with dialogue, he does not always create the most compelling or complete supporting characters in his stories.

Elba does deliver one devastating speech with great earnestness. It's a touch preachy, but he says what had needed to be said the entire movie. I was grateful.

The poker scenes bring a lot of fun to the table (sorry, it was right there). Each character represents a real-life celebrity or rich guy or at least an amalgam of a few real-life players. I had great fun guessing which character was which celebrity as I watched. Then I looked up the names later (obviously). That part was fun too.

At some point about halfway through, the movie hits a lull. It drags. It's never boring, but it doesn't hit with quite the same fury. Not every scene feels necessary, so the length becomes noticeably extensive. The movie definitely needs a trim.

After regaining its footing, the movie seems to be on the way to a satisfying conclusion. Then a bizarre ice-skating scene leads into an unwatchably awful three-minute therapy session. I nearly covered eyes and plugged my ears. Tough to forgive that one.

Despite the one horrendous moment, the movie offers far more good than bad. It's fun. It's smart. It's a commendable directorial debut from a long-time writing superstar, Aaron Sorkin, and it's one of Jessica Chastain's finest performances to date.
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Loosely knit flashbacks at too great a speed
filmbridges16 January 2018
I hesitated to be critical in the way I'm about to be because of a few factors that I ask readers to keep in mind. I'm 71 and wear hearing aids. At home on my TV, I almost always have captions on because of my hearing problem. Still, But then, I already had trouble following all the dialogue in the West Wing. In "Molly's Game" getting the flashbacks was a similar experience for me: too fast, not quite clear enough who was who, and the connections with the current scene sometimes not quite clear enough and it went by too quickly to think about it as did much of the dialogue. That I have hearing and processing problems hardly means I don't understand and/or can't follow most films I see at the theater. I loved "The Post." Nor did I have trouble with "Molly's Game" because I'm not smart: I have a M.A. in philosophy from U.C. Davis. This film just seemed like Sorkin trying to outdo Sorkin with the snappiness. and speed of dialogue and more.
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Don't write a movie about a subject matter you don't get
MovieCriticOnline22 January 2018
When you write about a subject matter, you should at a minimum know what you are talking about.

Overall the movie feels rushed for the sake of pleasing people with ADR. A couple of examples of why Sorkin, who is supposed to be one of the best writers, didn't do a good job here.

Anyone that has played poker for a little bit will know if they have the nuts. Don't tell us they have the nuts and then pretend we should believe they would fold when within one minute you tell us they don't like to fold.

Makes no sense. Also, don't have a high-level sophisticated lawyer not know what in propria persona means. (it means as your own person and refers to people that appear WITHOUT a lawyer.) You want us to believe he didn't know that but that Molly knew?

Then lawyers and defendants don't sit with the public in court. They are within the bar, and why was she not in custody like the other defendants?

Then there were just situations that were not believable. It's just written like a bad courtroom drama, all situations that would never happen.

Just a lot of repartee, which unfortunately makes me aware of the writing, not emerging in the movie. And then the constant sidetracked with nonsensical stories.
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Not quite a Royal Flush but a high full house
breheneyjames18 December 2017
'Molly's Game' is written and directed by esteemed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin of whom it is the directorial debut. It is adapted from the book of the same name by Molly Bloom herself. The film stars Jessica Chastain as the eponymous character in a commanding performance which keeps the audience hooked when the story itself fails to do so. Idris Elba plays Molly's lawyer in another good performance to add to his collection. The story is about Molly who was once an Olympic-hopeful skier who got sidelined due to injury which is shown in an engaging opening scene accompanied by her voice over. After to this she moves to LA and after a brief stint as a cocktail waitress ends up working as an assistant at a high stakes poker game featuring Hollywood stars, business moguls and unknowingly the Russian mob. When her boss refuses to pay her because she is making some much in tips she strikes out on her own and moves the game to a new location making sure to alert all the regular players of where to show up in the process. She also has a game set up in NYC and runs them both at the same time.

Of course this after we watch her being arrested by armed FBI agents in the middle of the night in an earlier scene. Sorkin does this throughout the movie intertwining events before and after she was taken in. It was works for the most part however it does slow down the pace at times when the audience gets invested in Molly's activities before her arrest (running the poker games) and then Sorkin suddenly cuts to events after which are far less attention grabbing (her legal trouble). I will say though that these less intriguing scenes are made more watchable by Chastain and Elba's performances. They are both really good in this movie and two of the strongest parts of 'Molly's Game'. There are a few other noteworthy performances as well namely Kevin Costner as Molly's father, Michael Cera as Player X (apparently based on Tobey Maguire!) and Chris O'Dowd as another one of the poker players. The other major strength of the movie is the script which is full of wit which one has come to expect from Sorkin. This gives Chastain a lot of ammunition to shine and she uses it brilliantly.

The constant voice over does get a little distracting quite often especially when filled with Sorkin's signature choc-a-bloc style dialogue. Thought again it less irritating due to Chastain's fine performance of it. I will also add that the direction is a tad undeveloped but then again this is Sorkin's debut so I'm sure he can only improve from here on out. Despite this though he does use some nice techniques to make high stakes hands of poker more exciting to watch. Overall this a decent directorial debut for Sorkin and one that will hopefully lead to better films from him in the future.
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A good story... as long as you don't take it as true
SkywalkerJones20 January 2018
There's no doubt this is a well made movie with some strong acting performances but there was no real connection to the characters. Am I supposed to like Molly because she had a hard upbringing and was able to turn that around by breaking the law and running a fancy card game with lots of famous people (whose names can't actually be mentioned)? Should I fell sorry for the gamblers who don't care that they lose he money because they are rich anyway? I know this is partly based on a book Molly wrote but the fact she doesn't offer full disclosure and lies to brush over certain parts of what happened makes me question how true her story really is. If you take it as based on a true story you'll see another hollywood puff piece designed to get some acting nominations. For a movie about poker games there wasn't a lot of poker. Sure there were a few times where it started to get exciting but then the director would cut to a flashback of her younger years and the pace would be lost. It reminded me a lot of Logan Lucky where I kept waiting for something to happen but it never really did.
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Fascinating and rewarding biographical drama
areatw31 October 2018
There is a lot to like about 'Molly's Game' and the film gets a lot more right than it does wrong. I always enjoy films based on a true story, especially when they are as unique and interesting as this one. It's also always refreshing to see a biographical film without knowing anything about the story beforehand. I for one had never heard of Molly Bloom or her story, so it really made for fascinating viewing.

The film runs very smoothly and despite the rather long running length, it never goes through any lulls and always feels fast-paced and on the move. 'Molly's Game' is not only an entertaining film but it's also informative and educational. The story is approached well, digging beyond the surface and ensuring no detail is missed from the story. 'Molly's Game' is a strong biographical drama that does a very good job overall at telling a fascinating story.
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