Film, Review

Molly’s Game: “Jessica Chastain is outstanding in Aaron Sorkins directorial debut”

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By Megan James

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is fast paced and intellectually pieced together, which is unsurprising when Sorkin’s screenwriting talents show no bounds when it comes to telling true stories. His trademark moves are using sharp drama, clever wit between intelligent characters and legal depositions to piece the events of the story together. With his previous work including The Social Network, Moneyball and Steve Jobs, all of which follow a similar layout to Molly’s Game.

Based on the bestselling memoir of disgraced “poker princess” Molly Bloom, the film follows the life of Molly (Jessica Chastain) a childhood skier destined for the Winter Olympics whose career was derailed due to a fluke accident. While searching for what to do next she gets herself involved with one of the most exclusive high stakes underground poker games in Los Angeles and later New York. Which in real life involved huge Hollywood stars such as Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire. Sorkin gives us a unique glance into the glamourous, undisclosed life, of what it would be like to run such an elite club. Followed by the downward spiral that often comes with power.

Chastain’s stand out re-enactment of Molly is incredible to watch, displaying her fiercely independent nature which drives her to succeed, using her intelligence as ammunition to fire at the powerful men that surround her to stay in control. Similar to that of Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Joy Mangano in Joy.

This is yet another performance where the flame haired star has played a strong female protagonist, after her portrayal of ruthless Washington lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane in Miss Sloane, which came out early 2017 and her stand out role in Zero Dark Thirty in which she plays a prickly CIA agent who will stop at nothing to catch Osama Bin Laden. Chastain is clearly committed to playing powerful female leads, and adapts to her contrasting roles like that of a chameleon.

Sorkin’s skill as a director is being able to use his famously complex scripts, in which his characters throw elaborate dialogue to and from each other with ease. Against his juggled structure of the narrative, where we see Molly’s life jump to and from timelines, as a way of explaining how her troubled childhood, with her presumptuous father (Kevin Costner) led her to run one of the most exclusive underground poker games in town, which later leads to her arrest by the FBI. This is all cleverly explained through her one to one talks with her lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), where we get to see a softer side of Molly as she battles with admitting how the years of being involved in the game have left their toll on her.

Elba’s and Chastain’s chemistry gives us a raw, explosive performance, cleverly set up by Sorkin. Pitting two actors at the top of their game against one another using nothing but their intellect through a skilfully written script. Complementing their individual strengths instead of letting them fight to be the bigger star, showing an outstanding amount of skill from the actors and Sorkin who balances them out superbly.

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