Molly's Game | Kilburnlad | Film | Reviews

Molly's Game

Molly's Game

After a bit of a break over Christmas we've resumed our cinema visits, the first being to see Molly's Game. Another film that is based on actual events, this time as described in the memoir written by the real Molly Bloom. Jessica Chastain takes on the role of Molly, and a fine job she does of it. She must be one of the hottest properties in Hollywood at the moment.

The film is accompanied by an ongoing narrative from Chastain as Molly, in which she describes her early life and how she ended up running one of the most exclusive high-stakes poker games in the world. As a youngster, under the somewhat bullying direction of her father, played by Kevin Costner, she rose to be a competitive skier, once ranked third in North America. Hers was a very high achieving family and she appears to have been quite rebellious.

The film shows a freak accident ending her skiing career, but this is, apparently, a bit of dramatic licence. But she did move to Los Angeles and found a job that introduced her to the world of high-stakes poker. When her misogynistic boss decides to stop paying her, because she is getting more than enough in tips from her role as hostess and game manager, she decides to invest everything in setting up her own game. Taking her ex-boss's players along with her, she builds a high-class high-stakes operation that attracts extremely wealthy individuals, including celebrities from cinema and sport.

Her narrative describing the players and the games is central to the plot as it helps us non-poker-playing types to at least understand a bit of what's going on. At one point it also describes how one player's ineptitude unintentionally misdirects another good player, and consequently starts a chain of events that leads to Molly's game collapsing. After this she relocates from LA to New York where the wealth of Wall Street is on hand.

Earlier in the film we have seen Molly arrested by an FBI team that raided her house. This is an 'end-of-story' scene setter that is gradually explained as the plot progresses. But as a parallel plot line we follow her preparation for trial and are introduced to Molly's initially reluctant lawyer, Charlie Jaffey, played by Idris Elba. His casting being another bit of dramatic licence, apparently, but it makes for good cinema.

Add to the mix some Russian oligarchs with loads of money; an Irish poker player, Douglas Downey, in the shape of Chris O'Dowd, who's besotted with Molly, thinking she's Irish; and the local Mafia, who offer up some pretty rough treatment when she refuses their 'protection'; and we have the ingredients for an excellent piece of biographical drama.

I can't help but feel, however, that the high moral stance attributed to Molly in this film perhaps disguises a much less perfect reality, but we go to the cinema to be entertained and to be removed from the coarseness of reality, even if the film in question purports to be based on actual events.

A film well worth seeing and if, like me, you like Jessica Chastain, then it is, quite frankly, unmissable.

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