This film is based on the true story of Molly Bloom as written in her memoirs — Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker. (Yes, it’s a mouthful, but that’s the title of the book.)
Jessica Chastain does a wonderful acting job of showing how Molly Bloom — a beautiful, young, potential Olympic freestyle ski jumper — became a tough, almost unfeeling woman.
As a child, Molly’s demanding father (played by Kevin Costner, recently in Hidden Figures) wants her to become a member of the United States Olympic ski team, and trains her with that goal in mind. He constantly pushes her and tells her she isn’t good enough. Her two brothers are overachievers, just as her father is, so when she has a freak accident during competition that ends her Olympic chances, Molly Bloom sets out to do something else.
She entertains the idea of law school, but instead packs her bags and heads to Los Angeles. Taking jobs to support herself while living on a friend’s couch, she eventually becomes assistant to a man who runs an exclusive poker game for high rollers.
Eventually Molly moves on to New York where she outsmarts her former boss and starts her own high stakes poker games with the rich and famous as her clients.
Molly runs everything by the books legally as well as offering the players more in the way of expensive snacks, drinks and comfort than any of the other operations at the time. She has beautiful women working for her, attending bar, being dealers, making the men as comfortable as they can but they never exchange sex for money.
Many of the regulars sitting at Molly’s tables include A-list actors, sportsmen and business magnates. While none of these high rollers are named outright, if you’re so inclined an online search should reveal some of the major players.
Ultimately due to pressures of running two to three all-nighters per week, Molly starts taking drugs to get sleep and to stay awake, which makes her sloppy and inadvertently gets her mixed up with the Russian mob. It’s only a matter of time before Molly is caught by the FBI, and she seeks out Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba, The Mountain Between Us) a sharp lawyer to defend her and though he can get her a great deal with the Feds he has a hard time convincing her to name names.
The movie has two timelines. The first timeline is the trial, which takes place in the present, the second timeline is the story of her gambling career. This two-timeline structure is blended through perfect editing.
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (creator of television’s The West Wing and an Oscar winner for The Social Network), this is a very stimulating and fast-paced film.
Go see it — it’s a great script!
ROK’S RATING: 4 glasses of bubbly
Rated: M (Mature Themes, Violence, Coarse Language)
Genre: Drama, Biography, Crime
Directed by: Aaron Sorkin (feature debut)
Written by: Aaron Sorkin, Molly Bloom (Memoir)
Release date: February 2, 2018
Studio: The Mark Gordon Production Company