With the likes of The Social Network, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs all under his belt, there perhaps isn’t anyone that can tell a true story quite way Aaron Sorkin can. For his latest project, the acclaimed writer also steps behind the camera this time to make his directorial debut and so we have Molly’s Game.

Molly’s Game tells the true story of our eponymous “poker princess” Molly Bloom (played by Jessica Chastain); in the opening scene of the film, we see her as an incredibly talented skier about to qualify for the Olympics – having trained intensely all her life for this – but when an accident leaves her unable to do so, she moves on swiftly with her life and onto chasing the next aspiration. Whilst residing in California, Bloom found herself running some of the most exclusive, high-stakes poker tables in the States for some of the richest and most powerful men in the world - quietly making her name known, and making some hefty money. But, as this game of hers began to spiral out of control, Bloom found herself caught in the middle of some legally dubious people and some serious heat from the FBI.
Of course, as is the case with any Sorkin endeavour, the story is never that simple and we see the narrative cutting rapidly back and forth between the aforementioned events and the modern day, where Bloom recounts them to her lawyer, the overpriced and morally firm Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), as the pair try to figure out how to save Bloom from prison. Sorkin wants to gloss over the tabloids, however, and past all of the details of the actual poker games (he refuses to use real celebrity names, which Bloom’s memoir of the same name did) and focuses on our titular lead here instead – this is a character study, astutely examining the inner turmoil this tough-as-nails woman is dealing with and her humanity and spirit to do the right thing and to come back on top once again. And it’s absolutely riveting. Sorkin constantly keeps the audience on their toes, bringing his trademark fizzing and sharp dialogue to the table; this is a snappy, fast-talking mobster piece and the film never slows for a breath – it’s paced with such a frenetic, dizzying energy. The tension is always high throughout and Sorkin seamlessly straddles both these timelines and perspectives to tell this story – from the exciting origin of our ‘poker princess’ to her fighting the law.

Expectedly from any project penned by Sorkin, the screenplay is one of the year’s best. It’s sublime and rife with pensive, deep-rooted nuance and depth; the dialogue is engrossing and electric and these characters jump off the page with such veritable, larger-than-life personalities. Bloom, especially, is a compelling one. She is hardcore, callous and driven with a steely and vigorous determination that makes her an inspiring character, but one fuelled with antagonising menace too. Yet, we care for her. She is flawed and volatile but thoroughly complex and tough; the film doesn’t shy away from showing this. Similarly, as Elba’s Jaffey learns to warm to her as he realises there’s more to her than he first thought, we, as the audience, do too; ever so slowly, we begin to peer into the soul of someone that is hard as nails but this is the result of being such a vacant and broken soul – one looking to find the humanity buried within and seeking redemption to rid of the pain of her past. Jessica Chastain plays this all with such utter conviction; this is a performance that is reserved and very wound-back but one that explodes off the screen, rattling off the dialogue in a fittingly snappy manner. Chastain is magnetic, gorgeous yet firm and she stands out as a tough female protagonist in an already solid year for tough female protagonists. This is stellar work, and will deservedly have people talking come Oscars. She is anchored by a fantastic supporting cast too, featuring an evil Michael Cera and Idris Elba and Kevin Costner both on fine form!
As far as Aaron Sorkin’s direction goes, Molly’s Game is gorgeous. For starters, the cinematography is stylish and pulpy. The film looks sumptuous and seductive; Sorkin clearly schmoozing us with a film that is polished and pretty, similarly to players schmoozing one another in Poker. He tells this story with aplomb; in recent years, Sorkin’s scripts have been the main stars of the show so what better person to take command and direct them than him. Molly’s Game isn’t without its flaws, though, and the frenetic nature of the storytelling switching between the two timelines can make for a film that is quickly paced and taut - if a little all over the place and tonally uneven at times as a result. With a runtime of 141 minutes too, this unevenness can become a little jarring; with such a complex story too, and so much material and information to provide the audience with, it can all feel so overwhelming – this is certainly a film that will take a couple of viewings or so to properly digest. But perhaps this is what makes Molly’s Game so brilliant; there is just so much to unpack here and it makes for an utterly compelling, very entertaining watch. Aaron Sorkin has dealt us a winning hand here, without a doubt. I await your next move, sir.


Molly’s Game is an absolutely sublime and electric character study that has us, like a hungry gambler with an addiction, locked in for the thrill and never wanting to leave this story.

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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