2017's Smartest Film
Molly's Game (2017): The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.
These Raw Thoughts come from you from Braxton Labs in Newport, KY, approximately 45 minutes after seeing the film.
Molly's Game is straight fire. The directorial debut for legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, this film takes the writer's trademark dialogue style and turns it up to eleven. This is done to the detriment of the film at times, but most of the time it works beautifully, especially surrounding the lead character. Molly Bloom is a total boss. The hero 2017 needed. She controls all the men around her (save one) while holding their hearts on a string, and she is played masterfully by Jessica Chastain. This is the role Chastain was born to play, and she puts in one of the sleekest and most badass roles of the year.While this performance may not net Chastain an Oscar, it is certainly one of my favorites of the year, and Sorkin's trademarked style meshes with Chastain better than PB&J.
As if that wasn't enough, Chastain’s male counterparts are fantastic, led the way by Idris Elba and Kevin Costner. These two are amazing. Heck, this may be the best role I've ever seen from the amazing Idris Elba. Freaking love this man! He is so charming and charismatic, and he gets to show that off as much as possible here. There's also a really deep (and strong) supporting cast. You know your cast is deep when someone like Joe Keery (from Stranger Things) has a total of two scenes! He does make the most of them, but the big loser from this is Michael Cera. He plays “Player X” and is clearly playing the “idea” of a character and isn't given much to do other than "be maniacal," which is unfortunate. But all in all this is a relatively minor complaint. The highlight of this film, without a doubt, is the dialogue.
The dialogue. If you've never seen a film by Aaron Sorkin, you've missed out on one of the most distinguishable storytelling styles in recent Hollywood memory. In his films, every character is the smartest person in the room, and they make sure everyone else knows it. They pull some of the deepest references out of thin air and know exactly what each other is talking about at all times. (At one point, Jessica Chastain starts talking about three poems that Idris Elba is making her daughter read. When did she have time to become fluent in poetry? Does it matter?) This film is no exception, and it is just so much fun! However, with Sorkin in the director's chair for the first time, no one was around to tell him no, which means sometimes people are….too smart. Sometimes, scenes will linger for too long because Sorkin can't help himself. It's the classic Quentin Tarantino problem. Sorkin is in love with his own dialogue, and without a director to tell him that he's written too much of it for a certain scene, they tend to be overlong as the characters will put out one reference too many. Personally, I LOVE Sorkin’s dialogue, so I have no problem with this, but if you're even slightly turned off by Sorkin's style…..you're gonna be turned off here. This is Sorkin's dialogue on steroids, so consider yourself warned. Though, to be fair, I don't know how you can hate his formula! It's sleek. It's sexy. It's intelligent. And it's FUN. I had a blast watching this! This movie is all of those things, and if you like Sorkin's dialogue then it's a STRONG directorial debut, led by the dazzling performance of Jessica Chastain.
“Player X” is a bit weak, and the film does glorify gambling a little too much, (I know, I know, gambling is romanticized in every Hollywood movie) but it's not enough to offset the greatness of here. See it for the craziness of the story, (and know it'll be nominated for an Oscar in the Adapted Screenplay department) the sleek and sexy actors, (Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain especially) and the amazing dialogue, however if you've never seen a Sorkin screenplay (somehow)....don't start here. Start with something like The Social Network. (Fun fact....that was the fifth review I ever wrote! And I still think it's one of the 5 best films of the 21st century)
My Number: 8/10
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