I rented Molly's Game tonight. I was apprehensive. True, the script written by Aaron Sorkin (one of the best) was nominated for an Oscar this past year. Still, I had read reviews of the movie that were all over the map. I say that in the sense that everyone pretty much liked it but described it in different terms. When I watched it, the movie really ddin't fit anything I had read and I fail to understand why because this is a really well-made movie.
Yes, Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) narrates a lot of the story. But she does so in a way where the dialogue doesn't seem like narration. It proves a clever writing technique and is very effective in describing the life of a world-class skier - whose brother was ranked number one - injured in an Olympic trial and who later found herself running poker games with millions changing hands on a nightly basis. I won't spoil the ending but safe to say she ran afoul of the feds. The movie is based on the book on how she ended up in a court room. By the way, I want to read the book now.
I vaguely remember seeing Molly Bloom as a kid ski. I don't know if it was a clip of when she got injured (a one in a million accident involving a stick) or just a competition. I also remember immediately recognizing her clients even though the movie shields their identity. In the back of my mind, I remember when this scandal broke. I want to say - rightly or wrongly - that it involved Toby McGuire who I believe in the film was 'Player X'. Other big Hollywood stars were involved. I made the connection because I remember Mr. Spiderman being caught up in a poker scandal. He was rumored at one point to have won over 10 million dollars in cash games and to have a cold calculating personality. Definitely matches the character in the movie played by Michael Cera.
This was a powerful movie. It not only shows how private high-stakes poker works among the elite but lent a strong impression of Molly Bloom herself. The movie made it easy to identify with her and especially the struggles she had with her father, portrayed by Kevin Costner in this movie. But make no mistake this movie is all about Bloom herself, backed by a strong performance of Idris Elba as her lawyer.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. It was worthy of that Oscar nod. While it runs nearly 2 1/2 hours, it is one of those movies where you don't notice the time. This was a huge case at the time and so you gain a little American history here plus inside exposure to how poker is operated. On my rating scale this gets 4/5. Definitely worth a rental. Just ignore anything you read about this movie and rent it.