Director: Aaron Sorkin.
Oscar winner, Aaron Sorkin, the man who wrote the screenplays to Moneyball, The Social Network, A Few Good Men and including this, makes this film his directorial debut. And about time of you ask me.Here he tells the story of American entrepreneur, Molly Bloom who ran prestigious, high-stake poker games from 2007 and was then eventually arrested for breaking several federal gambling laws and tax evasion.
Sorkin has an incredible talent for taking, what might seem to be a mundane or ordinary story and turn it into an exciting piece of cinema. He’s got incredible storytelling capabilities. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Oakland A’s baseball manager Billy Beane and now Molly Bloom. It’s his attention to detail about their personal lives, the little intricacies that would normal go unnoticed which are probably integral to their motivations. And, of course, it’s isn’t just what is told but it’s the way he tells them.
Molly Bloom is one of these people. Whilst touching on her earlier life the key focus is how she got into the world of underground poker. Going from being an assistant at a game in LA’s Viper Room to hosting the most lucrative and attractive poker rooms in the world. Buy-ins started at $10k eventually reaching a quarter of a million dollars to just sit at the table. Bloom herself reporting having seen someone lose $100million in one night. And settle the debt the following day! The clientele she allured included sportstars, a-list actors, politicians, platinum record musicians, Wall Street traders, billionaires and of course, other unsavoury characters.
This has always been an element that I love about poker. Bringing a vast variety of people around a table from all walks of life for no other reason than to play poker. Not just to win money or lose money but just to play. Hardly any films portray poker right, maybe lack of research or fear of confusing non-poker players. Rounders has always been that exception and it still remains to be the definitive poker film.
But that’s not to say Molly’s Game isn’t a good poker film. The respect for poker realism is all there with Sorkin using professional poker players as extras and actually made the cast play in between takes, often resulting in the extras being the highest paid people on set.
Reminding ourselves this is based on a true story, it dares to be controversial but celebrity identities are altered; probably not to protect the stars involved but most likely to protect the film from any legal battles. It’s certainly not favourable to certain key characters and often spurs immense curiosity into who’s who in real life.
Chastain is brilliant as usual giving a powerful performance. But she was casted at Molly Bloom’s request and I’m intrigued to know why. They’re both incredibly stunning which is undoubtedly use to the character’s advantage. But the character’s key attribute would be her mind, though she of course makes some bad decisions. I believe Chastain has done her proud closely repeating the presence she gave for Miss Sloane, another powerhouse, sharp and brilliant performance. Elba’s does good in support and you could even overlook his attempt at an American accent, something I normal criticise him for. As for Cena, I wonder if it was weird playing another actor, and how would he react if they ever came face to face.
The ever busy Daniel Pemberton does a great score that’s suits the style and mood of the film throughout. There’s though calm, soothing moments but they build up to electric guitars, beats and heavy bass that’s not far from David Holmes Ocean’s 11 score with tracks like “Play Your Hand” and “Set Up”. For the calmness listen to “Molly’s Dream”, “Therapy Session” and “All the Beauty in the World”.
Molly Bloom is an astonishing character that fills you with intrigue and wonderment, so much so, I’ve purchased her book and can not wait to read it. Sorkin tells her story brilliantly and is a mighty fine debut to make! Keen to see his next film The Politician about 2008’s presidential candidate, John Edward. Mr Sorkin, if you’re reading this! Please can you tell a story about Daniel Price of Gravity Payments?
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being the closest film to Rounders in terms of poker.