Oscars 2018 Review: Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game follows the rise and fall of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a former Olympic-level pro skier who made a fortune running an exclusive high-stakes poker game for celebrities and wealthy businessmen until her eventual arrest by the FBI.

Aaron Sorkin is no doubt one of the most prolific screenwriters both in movie and television. Some of his most recognisable screenwriting credits include A Few Good Men (1992), The Social Network (2010), Moneyball (2011) and of course, TV’s The West Wing. In Molly’s Game for which he adapted his screenplay from Molly Bloom’s memoir of the same name, the true-story drama also marks Sorkin’s directorial debut at the same time.

As in most movies written by Sorkin, Molly’s Game excels the most when it comes to dialogues and characters. He knows how to make the words sing. Even if the movie itself is talky. The opening four-minute prologue alone is engaging enough to draw the viewer’s attention, complete with Jessica Chastain’s snappy voiceover summarising her career wipeout as a pro skier. No wonder Sorkin’s adapted screenplay gets a well-deserved nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.

But his well-written dialogues wouldn’t have worked if the actors fail to deliver. And thankfully, he made the right choice casting Jessica Chastain to play the titular role. She is no doubt a powerhouse on the acting front. She dominates each time she appears on the screen. From her provocative dressing style to her sassy attitude, Chastain’s remarkable performance stands among the best characters she ever played. Which makes me wonder why Academy failed to land her a nod for Best Actress.

The rest of the supporting actors are equally praiseworthy, particularly Idris Elba who plays Molly’s lawyer and Kevin Costner as Molly’s strict father. Whereas Sorkin thrives in dialogue and characters, Molly’s Game is far from a great biopic. At 140 minutes, it tends to feel overlong. As much as I enjoyed Sorkin’s written dialogues, the movie could have benefitted with a tighter pace.

Although Sorkin still has a long way to go to establish himself as a top-notch director, say, in the vein of David Fincher where they worked together in The Social Network, Molly’s Game remains a good start for the Oscar-winning screenwriter.

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