Molly's Game

‘I’m still waiting on my money, Molly!’
Verdict: 
8/10 – Although the game jargon is difficult to understand, that doesn’t stop the excitement and intensity.
Written by: 

Jessica Chastain gives another impressive, powerful performance as poker queen Molly Bloom.

8

You expect big things for a film adaptation based on a book with the unwieldy and impressive title Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker.

And luckily Aaron Sorkin, who has penned the scripts for other biopics including The Social Network, about Facebook, and Steve Jobs about the late Apple extraordinaire, delivers on all fronts - and marks his directorial debut.

He tapped Oscar-nominated Jessica Chastain to play the title character, Molly Bloom, who was investigated by the FBI for holding an underground poker game.

She hadn't intended to fall into the world of gambling though, initially pursuing professional skiing and becoming a member of the U.S. ski team, ranking third overall in North America almost 20 years ago.

But when a bad tumble down a slope during a competition seemingly puts an end to her dream, much to the disappointment of her father (played by Kevin Costner), Molly decides enough is enough and moves from Colorado to California.

There she picks up some odd jobs, including as an office assistant for a man called Dean (Jeremy Strong), who - when he isn't busy as a realtor - runs poker games on the side. He enlists Molly to help, and she soon discovers how elite the secretive universe is.

The film oscillates back and forth through time, showing the moment Molly is arrested at her home and has to hire lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), before recapping the events that landed her in the tricky spot - giving audiences a glimpse of what it was really like in Molly's world.

The players who sit at the table are played by the likes of Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, whose endearing yet depressing character Douglas Downey has a massive part in Molly's fate when he invites the Russian mob into the crowd, and Michael Cera, whose alter-ego Player X is thought to be based on former Spider-Man star, Tobey Maguire.

Chastain is arguably one of the best actresses of her generation and she fully immerses herself into Molly's shoes, becoming every inch the "self-confessed Poker Queen".

As for Elba, he continues to make people swoon as softie lawyer Charlie, whose relationship with his daughter makes him even more likeable - that and standing up for Molly despite not initially receiving a retainer.

However, the jargon is difficult to understand at times, and unless you know the rules of poker it's quite easy to get lost in what the stakes are during each game.

And, being based on the woman who wrote the book, the whole film strongly argues Molly's innocence - but how do we know for sure?

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