Tropic Sprockets / Molly‘s Game

By Ian Brockway

The rapid fire dialogue maestro Aaron Sorkin does a solid job as director in the story of Molly Bloom, the former Olympic hopeful who was arrested for mafia ties in 2013, specifically due to illegal gambling.

The film is pedestrian, straight forward, and a bit routine in its narrative, but Jessica Chastain has a fine outing as the title character who seldom loses her cool.

At the start of “Molly‘s Game” (a title that is perhaps a nod to author Patricia Highsmith), Molly undergoes painful surgery to correct her scoliosis. Later she is shooting down the slopes on skis, when she hits a stubborn clump of bark and discovers her ski detaching. She lands with a horrible thump, flat on her back.

After a year of recuperation, Molly takes a job as a nightclub waitress, and gopher to the piggish and arrogant Dean (Jeremy Strong). Dean gives Molly a job as a high stakes poker game assistant and she is soon number two in importance, keeping track of cards dealt and money exchanged.

When things go south with Dean, Molly decides to go rogue so to speak and conduct her own poker game, courting many Hollywood celebrities.

The most compelling element about the film is its portrayal of Molly who always seems a step or two ahead of everyone. Dean can’t catch her, even though he wants to and you might say the same for the movie star known as Player X (Michael Cera).

Suffice to say, trouble catches up to Molly, a person who emerges as a purveyor for gambling addictions, most noticibly in the pathetic case of Harlan (Bill Camp).

When things get hairy, Idris Elba co-stars as Molly’s disinterested counsel.

Fans of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “House of Cards” will notice some familiar qualities: the deadpan voice-over, descriptions of decadence, the labeling of drugs and the nonchalant ‘I told you so’ manner of speech.

While there is little surprise in the obligatory courtroom scenes and a conventional heart to heart with low key Dad (Kevin Costner), “Molly‘s Game” is a showcase for Jessica Chastain. The actor is excellent in crafting a believable kind of antihero both fearless and vulnerable, almost a person to root for.

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