Molly’s Game is a movie about a woman in a mans world that plays the game better than them. She encounters some that are her lesser, others that underestimate her and a few that stand on her level.
Opening the movie is a fast passe flashback were the title character Molly, recounts how in her teens that she was on her way to being a very successful skier but there are many elements that effect everything, one of them causes her to loose balance and take a bad fall. No more skiing. Then cut to her receiving a phone call telling her to come to the door to be arrested. We then get a flashback of her years later where she falls into a job where (for a sleazy Hollywood faker) hosts a poker game hosted by high rollers. This gets her big money and eventually takes over through skill and wit.
There seems to be a trend of telling a story out of order chronologically. I understand why for the purpose of this movie but whats wrong with telling your story in a perfectly sound and natural way? I worry it will become a trend that will hold no benefits, only an excuse for the writers to show off.
Because of the charges she needs a lawyer. She finds Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who is indeed competent but also not shady (something Molly wanted specifically). Through their preparations Molly is grilled about what she really knew about the people playing in those games and giving up all the names of the people that played at them. She refuses because the details could endanger her but also ruin lives.
Chastain plays Molly as someone that is a well tuned machine. Controlling of her situation and little enough of an ego to let insults and bad manners wash off her. She has little to physically do beyond walking down hallways is designer clothing and heels and typing away at a keyboard but you can see her clockwork-like thought process happening under the surface.
Writer Director Aaron Sorkin is clearly interested in highly motivated characters wrapped up in legal controversies. Look to Charlie Wilson’s War and The Social Network for other examples of this theme and his work.
A lot happens to Molly and she has to deal with a lot of details and adsorb information constantly (as well as the audience). So there is a lot of dialog that goes by very fast so you will have to pay attention. The movie is mostly made of Molly explaining the situation or her mentality which is shown with swooping camera movements or montage edits or one on one dialog scenes where the characters and virtually dueling with their words or a character gets to land a big meaty speech. Sorkin however, wisely makes the whole thing more digestible by having moments of ambiance and static shots that allow the information and mood the settle. Even with these moments to catch your breathe the passe is still very fast.
The story is a highly fascinating one and told by a creator that is very confident in their craft. Though he may be too confident. It just goes by too fast at times because the actors need to fit in all the dialog which can frankly be cut down. Solid performances, an enticing concept and well made, though the heavy load of information that it asks us to digest subtracts from the whole.