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Molly’s Game review: the house doesn’t always win

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Gutted after missing Molly’s Game over the festive period, a re-release brought joy – could this be the film that convincingly portrays the intensity of high stakes gambling, both in cash and virtue?

Jessica Chastain plays titular character Molly Bloom. After the competitive skier suffers a big fall at Olympic tryouts, Bloom (being inherently competitive) looks for something else to be world class at. And with law school looking like a safe bet, she moves to Los Angeles. Through cause and effect, her life in LA transforms her from cocktail waitress into humane underground casino kingpin. But in a matter of years (and after attempting to cut loose from it all), her whirlwind lifestyle catches up with her, in a big way.

Chastain, along with numerous bit part characters such as Michael Cera and OTHER GUY, do a fantastic job explaining (without being patronising) the heights to which these sorts of poker games extend. Screenwriter and director, Aaron Sorkin adds to this by creating an intense atmosphere – not with violence or heavily contextualised gambling, but merely with the rules of the game matched with Chastain’s narrating.

Often gambling films fixate a little too long at the table, but Molly’s Game places the intensity of high stakes poker third in importance behind her law suit and family history. With the help from real-life Molly’s memoir (Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker), Chastain and Sorkin create a profoundly deep character, portraying Molly as a greedy woman who gets in too deep as well as a genuinely sincere, highly intelligent, driven female, who will stop at nothing to be the best, but having to deal with the moral implications that scatter her path.

The addition of Idris Elba pushes forth a stand off between right and wrong that pits the sheer arrogance and frivolity of men against their own consequences. It’s quite the advert for men (somehow) getting off scot free from highly incriminating situations.

The shock? It doesn’t feel drawn out for its run time of 2 hours 20 minutes, and the element of humour is epitomised by Chastain and Elba’s witty back and forth.

The let down? Michael Cera’s character arc.

Audience rating? Don’t chew with your mouth open, especially while eating popcorn at the cinema, ESPECIALLY during trial scenes.

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