Towards the end of last year, I decided to attend Cineworld’s infamous Christmas time Secret Screening. Despite the fact half of the audience were hoping to get an exclusive early screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I think the majority were happy with the film after it was revealed. As a graduate of first-time director Aaron Sorkin‘s online screenwriting masterclass, I was already interested in seeing his adaptation of the real-life story of Molly Bloom in Molly’s Game. With a stellar cast including Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, the film has Oscar potential written all over it, but in a stacked year, will it fall to the side like other contenders this year.
If this film doesn’t convince you that Chastain is one of the best working actresses, then I’m not sure what will. She has had some amazing roles over the past decade, my personal favourites are Miss Sloan and The Help, but she stands out in most of the films she is in. Molly’s Game is the perfect project for the actress, moving from some of the personality traits of her character in Miss Sloan, Chastain is able to produce strong female characters who are direct without apology, but they also have a heart. She manages to carry this film, and although the character can be hard and abrasive, she is a character you can really get behind. I think it was important for Sorkin to include the character’s family life, showing how she developed her character traits and why.
Sorkin takes a few risks with the storytelling method that I really think work in his favour. I enjoyed the way the story jumps around the timeline, focussing mainly on the court case Molly finds herself in. Sorkin is also incredibly well-known for his dialogue, and Molly’s Game provides some perfect examples of this. I loved the scene Elba has as he fights to get Molly’s case drops, the scene with Chastain and her father on the park bench played by the incredible Kevin Costner and all of Molly’s voiceover scenes. He also excels in the poker scenes, he manages to showcase the action without making it gimmicky or dumbed down. To say that Sorkin wrote and directed this film, I think this is a film that demonstrates his unmatchable talent and is a promising stepping stone to bigger and greater things. I would love to see him take on a franchise film like a Bond or even a DC Universe film.
Elba also gives a great performance, as does Costner, but Chastain is on top form they can’t help but fall slightly to the sides. Elba proves he can handle both TV and film roles, despite having a disappointing outing this year with The Dark Tower. I still think he has Oscar-calibre performances in him, but I don’t think Molly’s Game gave him the best opportunity to shine. The supporting cast is perfectly cast, two standouts, in particular, include Michael Cera and Chris O’Dowd. Cera needs to be cast in more films and O’Dowd proves his comedy chops once again. Finally, Chastain’s relationship with Jeremy Strong at the start of the film reveals a lot about her character and Strong plays the greedy boss perfectly.
I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed the film so much is because part of it reminds me of one of my favourite films, Martin Scorsese‘s modern classic The Wolf Of Wall Street. I enjoy modern stories, and it seems Sorkin has a real knack for telling them. Chastain still doesn’t get the recognition that she deserves, and it is seeming unlikely she will get the Oscar nomination for this role. I hope that Sorkin and Chastain work together again, it seems they had a good and strong director-actor relationship. Sorkin demonstrates that he is not only a talented screenwriter but also a rising director. He is also talented at picking projects, telling stories that affect him and our current society’s culture. Worth a watch and a step away from the usual ‘Oscar’ films.
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