Molly’s Game (2017) ☆ ☆ ☆

Some movies, no matter how intricately detailed or complexly structured they are, don’t connect with viewers because of what they are about.  Molly’s Game is one of those movies for me.  Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) is a woman in legal trouble because she’s been running a very high-stakes poker game, and the Feds want to know details about her contacts.  She was a young skier, on track for the Olympics, before a bad accident ended that career, forcing her to find another way to make money.  Now, she’s merely trying to survive without ratting out the people who trusted her with their privacy (and private behaviors).

Aaron Sorkin wrote the script and directed this movie based upon Molly’s memoir, and it is vintage Sorkin.  I loved his TV show “The West Wing” because it was complex, smart, funny, and moved along at a breathtaking pace.  The same is true for this movie.  The difference is that I am not interested in Molly’s skiing, or her poker games.  Those who are will be fascinated by the lingo, the zippy editing and the immense detail that Sorkin brings to the screen.  All of that makes the film palatable for viewers such as I who don’t care about her risky endeavors.  But at 140 minutes, there’s a lot of ground to cover.

One aspect very much intrigues me, and that is Molly’s relationship with her domineering father Larry (Kevin Costner).  At first he’s a mean bugger, and that never really changes.  But there’s a great scene near the end of the story where he comes clean about everything, proving that he has never stopped caring for her.  That scene made the movie for me.  Chastain is terrific throughout, and Idris Elba is at his best as Molly’s lawyer making a couple of impassioned speeches on her behalf.

Molly’s Game is a very well made movie that I wish would interest me more than it does.  Sorkin has obviously put an incredible amount of heart and soul into this project.  I certainly recommend it for anyone who finds the premise at all interesting.  Sorkin is a great writer and a good director (this is his debut), but maybe next time he’ll make something that piques my sensibilities a little more — like a literate monster movie or the life story of Sal Mineo.  Something other than skiing and poker.  ☆ ☆ ☆.  10 February 2018.

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