Molly Bloom has nothing to do with the James Joyce character, but more to do with the convicted criminal who once ran a red hot poker game, but is no less colourful. This Molly has a different lust, and discovering that is part of the movie.
This is an Aaron Sorkin script based on the book of the same title, which is cleverly used as a prop in the film. It traces young Molly’s unlucky fall as a skier which cracked and shattered her US qualification chances, her demanding father (Kevin Costner) influence, and how she fell into the private poker scene. It’s all in flashback with an incessant voice over, as it’s set after she’s been arrested by the FBI who need her testimony to convict some nasty Russians.
This is Jessica Chastain’s film ( The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), and Costner, Idris Elba, as her lawyer, and Chris O’Dowd are mere support props (and isn’t it refreshing to say that?) She traverses the challenges of playing a 16 year old to twenty-something poker millionaire to thirty-something defendant really well. She’s so cool and confident, I think the over bearing soundtrack was there to hold Kevin up.
Aaron Sorkin’s script and direction debut is snap-crackly good. The voice-over is a little excessive, but he is a writer. He’s gone for a slick glossy look, instead of realism or a Scorsese feel, and it doesn’t give you time to pause. It is a little long at 2 hours 20
minutes, but if you understand poker, it flies. While an understanding of the game helps, it doesn’t detract from the story. She’s a whip-smart woman outplaying the players in a man’s world.
It is very kind to the central character, and poker’s moral compass is a little twisted to some. This still has the impact of an all-in bluff win, and the wisdom of a smart fold. You’ll enjoy the rush, not care too much about the players, but don’t dawdle… there’s another hand to play.
Con’s Score: 3.5 fullhouses
Con Nats – Theatre Now & On The Town