Molly’s Game (2017)

Available on Netflix

Directed By Aaron Sorkin

Starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner

While the phrase “based on a true story” is usually code for “Hollywood has run out of original ideas so we hired a cheap screenwriter to adapt a biography in order to save money and still have a shot at an Oscar because…wow…isn’t life sometimes stranger than fiction”, Molly’s Game is different.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s feature Directorial debut kept me pretty well engrossed for its 2 hour and 20 minute runtime, largely because the Director employed a Screenwriter whose grasp of the craft of storytelling is evidenced in such works as the laugh-track-era-ending- Sports Night  (1998 – 2000) as well as lesser known works such as  The West Wing  and  The Social Network  2010).

Molly’s Game cracks along at a fair old clip, distilling the decade long story of a one-time would-be Olympian-turned high-stakes underground celebrity poker Host facing criminal charges into a slick and pacey picture.

Yet with Sorkin’s trademark fast-paced dialogue comes Sorkin’s inevitable trademark schmaltz and hence the film’s only real let down is a scene toward the end which amazingly is still not earned after approximately 2 hours of dense activity. This contrivance is perhaps a necessary evil of Sorkin’s work given his enduringly refreshing interest in portraying professional and capable characters striving for greatness.  More specifically, the titular protagonist of  Molly’s Game  is a would-be gold medallist skier who, forced into a change of career due to a serious injury, cannily works her way up from glorified waitress to master manipulator through her intelligence, integrity and tenacity.  The obligatory adversity Molly faces comes primarily in the form of her run in with the law, cue her adept yet initially sceptical advocate Idris Elba.  

Necessary contrivances and aforementioned schmaltz aside,   Molly’s Game  is a prime example of Writer / Director Aaron Sorkin’s penchant for snappy dialogue and for exploring the mechanics of spheres most of us will never otherwise understand. 

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