MOLLY'S GAME Review
Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut may lack overall emotional punch where it desires but the performances holding up the script also penned by Sorkin make all the fun and drama needed to enjoy MOLLY'S GAME.
You will never feel that this was not written by Sorkin. It has all the hallmarks and usually the best ones. There is a charm and humor through much of the film when it is not harshly interrupted to show the darker side of the affairs that Jessica Chastain's Molly Bloom finds herself in. Chastain is pretty damn perfect here in a fiery performance that has strength and vulnerability mixed to a fine blend. While Sorkin's screenplay is great, Chastain is the star here without question. Idris Elba has a highlight scene here too. He is a magnet throughout. Truly these two together make the film work best. They bounce back and forth they way two top notch talents can when given great material. I was particularly taken by Kevin Costner though who portrays Molly's demanding father that is also a psychologist. A later scene in the film really showcases all that Costner can add to the equation and it stood out positively. Michael Cera has a brief but vital part here as well and he sheds the usual traits accustomed to his persona. Again, it's excellent work all around.
There is a bit of a jump in the focus from woman and men struggle to inner family/inner self turmoil towards the conclusion. It gives us the Costner scene and make sense when viewed from a distance but did make a noticeable pivot. Towards story that would be my only concern though. There is a swap of bad males and good males too. At the start and through most of the middle Molly has to contend, and usually lose, to men in power. Then two men in power come to bat for her and basically save her ass. I am not sure if that was the right choice or if Molly herself should have been able to do that lifting. It is because of her staunchness that the opportunity exists for her final position in the film but she absolutely seems at the mercy of others most of the way. Maybe that is fine though. I am sure she feels that way at a certain point so having that be the reality may be staying true to the moment. She does not break her beliefs though so in that respect she is strong. I am told she is struggling following her arrest but the biggest example I was shown of this was buying a pretzel instead of a hot dog. The emotional expense was displayed by Chastain but going a step further would have been welcomed as well.
As for Sorkin's directing of the drama, the strength of the words and talent seem more than enough to make this film entertaining even with a near three hour runtime. I do wonder what a more experienced director would have been able to do with the set up though. For obvious reasons my mind goes to David Fincher since he seems the director in Hollywood who can make two people talking in a room feel like a chase scene in an action film and he excelled Sorkin's work on THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Anther one-two punch here could have resulted in something special. This is not to knock Sorkin, he does a fine job but the ceiling here may have been higher.
Chastain, Elba, Cera and Costner combined with an overall strong write up make for an enjoyable evening with excellent back and forth wordsmithing that Sorkin is famous for. Jessica Chastain is the main event though and for that I would recommend MOLLY'S GAME.