February 1, 2018

Molly's Game (2017)

Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner

It takes all of about fifteen seconds in to know this is an Aaron Sorkin movie. The fast dialogue, rapid cut scenes, tone balanced between serious and snarky--they're a dead giveaway. Of course, there are the random few crazies out there who don't care for Sorkin (I assume they exist, I've never actually met any), but for everyone else, this is a terrific return to form after the disappointing Steve Jobs two years ago. 

I try not to know a lot about movies going in so I don't place false expectations on them, but I will say I wasn't necessarily excited to see this one. For one thing, it has a really stupid title. I understand it's a biography and has the same name as Molly Bloom's real book, but that doesn't make it any better. Also, the previews do not do it justice.

First of all, this story is wild. Even more so than I, Tonya, which is really saying something. Of course I Googled the fact vs fiction immediately after watching the movie and was stunned to see how much of it was actually true. This woman has had a crazy life. Two crazy lives. And she's only 39.

Also, she is my new hero. Yeah, yeah, I realize there's the whole "she broke the law and was addicted to drugs" part but I'm willing to look past them because holy sh*t is Molly Bloom is a go-getter. She is the driven, successful person we all think we could be, if only we weren't so lazy. My husband and I always joke about how we hate people who are successful in more than one arena (like she's brilliant and an Olympic-level athlete and not hideous? Bitch!), but it actually makes sense since they probably work harder at everything they do than 99% of the population. Or they started out rich. Either or.

What makes this movie successful is Sorkin's ability to weave various elements, people, and timelines together in a coherent way that keeps the story fast-paced without confusing people with flashbacks and flash forwards. This movie nails just about every detail, right down to the tiny portions of fiction needed to hold the story together. Literally the only gripe I have about this movie was the unnecessary reappearance of Kevin Costner to have him mansplain Chastain's entire life. This movie shows so much female-empowered kick-ass-ness (yes I said it) that to add that scene felt like an annoying concession to keep the movie from getting too feminist or something.

I have a feeling this movie is going to be overlooked come Oscar time because on its face, a story about an underground poker game doesn't seem to have the gravitas of sexual identity or journalistic integrity or a mixed species love story set to French music, but that would be the voter's mistake. This has been my favorite movie of the season thus far. Then again, maybe it's just Sorkin.

Final word: At a minimum, this movie will make you finally remember who the hell Jessica Chastain is.

You should also know going in that "Player X" is Tobey Maguire in real life. I feel completely vindicated that I've hated him all these years. If I'd had a psychologist as a father, he'd tell me I subconsciously knew he was a terrible person all these years and my mocking the Spiderman movies was just a manifestation of those feelings. Ha!


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