Molly's Game


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Molly's Game
"The tension is too tight to touch"

Molly Bloom? Sounds familiar. What is this? A reworking of James Joyce?

Actually, no. This girl (Jessica Chastain) is into poker, not marital sex. She had a tough coach when she was younger, her dad (Kevin Costner). He trained her to be a ski champion. Praise didn't come into it. "You Can Do Better" was branded onto her brain. Then one day it all went to bits. She was in an Olympic trial slalom when one of her boots brushed a branch and the binding snapped and she crashed badly. It was over. The dream and her knee was shattered.

Copy picture

Molly's Game is not a sports biopic. It is more dangerous, more focused. Her training on the piste turned out to be exactly what she needed when running high stakes poker games. You can't afford to take your eye off the cards, or the high rollers. One slip, one mistake, and you're gone. Trust is essential and trust was her currency.

Aaron Sorkin became famous as the creative force behind The West Wing. Not only did he write Molly's Game (based on her book), but he directed it as well, a first.for him. `

He takes risks, shuffling flashbacks and telling the story with a narrative voice which, in anyone else's hands, could have been too much. He is dealing with men - never women - who might lose millions in a night, which demands a degree of empathy and toughness from his protagonist. Her skills include an understanding of psychology. She has to be nice, she has to look better than nice. She has to be a mother, a lover, a best friend without being any of those things and must dance between the obstacles of the law like a gymnast on point shoes. She has to be cool and clean. In the end it's about business and finally about The Russian mafia and the FBI.

You might have to know something about poker to catch the clues, but this is Molly's story. She is the one. Chastain has the confidence and character to pull it off, aided and more than abetted by Idris Elba who plays her lawyer. He hasn't been this good since The Wire which makes you realise that in the right hands and with the right script he can do anything and be anyone, even a famous British secret agent.

Skiing is an outdoor sport. Poker is an indoor obsession. Both have to be controlled by strict rules because the tension is too tight to touch.

Reviewed on: 26 Dec 2017
Share this with others on...
Molly's Game packshot
The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.
Amazon link

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Writer: Aaron Sorkin, based on the book Molly Bloom

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O'Dowd

Year: 2017

Runtime: 140 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database: