Thank the Movie Gods for Aaron Sorkin. He is one of the best writers in movies/television right now and probably one of the best writers in the history of man, along with David Mamet and Quentin Tarantino. He makes dialogue role off of actors/characters tongue so gracefully that you sit there slack jawed by how wonderful it is. Here is some of his written projects to remind you how good he is: The Social Network, Steve Jobs, The West Wing, A Few Good Men, The Newsroom (remember Jeff Daniel’s speech in the first episode about how America isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore? That went viral and yeah, Sorkin wrote that shit). So it isn’t a surprise for me to tell you that MOLLY’S GAME is one of my favorite films of the year, high up on my list with John Wick Chapter 2 and IT. Two hours and 20 minutes felt like less than 90. Not only is the dialogue sharp and quick witted, the story is actually very interesting and entertaining. The acting is also phenomenal. Not only all of the above, but this is Sorkin’s directorial film debut, and he did a fine job in his new role as well.
The movie, which could stand as a true story spiritual successor to Rounders (but on the other side of the table), stars Jessica Chastain and her cleavage as Molly Bloom, who got in trouble with the FBI for running high stakes exclusives poker games after getting hurt as an Olympic class skier. Sorkin’s dialogue effortlessly takes the astonishing journey about how a small frozen tree branch on a slope became that one in a billion chance accident to turn her into a FBI target. The movie brings to the table if you will, one of my favorite things that movies do. Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) narrarates throughout the entire film. It tells you along with showing you what is going on at the same time. The same exact thing that movies like Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street and Casino do. I know, I know, those are all Scorcese films, but you get my point. I love when movies talk to the audience. She doesn’t break the fourth wall to look at the camera here, but she might as well have.
The movie switches back between the past and the present and does so seamlessly with hardly any title cards explaining where they are in time now. Idris Elba also does a fantastic job as her lawyer trying to get her out of jail. He has another fantastic Aaron Sorkin speech near the end of the film defending Chastain that any other year he’d probably be nominated for supporting. But this is entirely Chastain’s show, and she will likely be nominated for Best Actress when Oscar time comes around. She is fantastic is anything she does, whether its solid films like The Help, or meh ones like Mama. I have never seen Chastain phone in a role, so I’ll be interested to see how she does as the villain in X-Men Dark Phoenix next year.
If you are looking for a poker movie like Rounders, be warned, while there are several hands that they show you in poker, the movie is more about who runs the games, who shows up at the games, who controls the money and debt for the games, and so on. But just like Rounders, every part about it is fascinating. And again, it is because of the dialogue. Dialogue films can make or break your attention, and only the best can keep your eyes and ears glued to the screen at all times. This is one of those films. There is not a lagging part in it. Michael Cera and Kevin Costner get small supporting roles in this, and I haven’t seen Costner this good in a long time and I’ve never seen Michael Cera this good since…well ever to be honest.
I could get into specifics, but I don’t want to spoil the many fun and interesting surprises the movie has in store. Let’s just say if you don’t know anything about Molly Bloom, the “Princess of Poker,” don’t look up anything on Wikipedia, because you might be spoiled on some of the outcomes and interesting scenarios she has to pull herself through. My wife usually does not enjoy long movies. But she loved this one, and she had to go to the bathroom during it but was having a hard time trying to find a spot where which she could go. That says something. The movie was on its game and will still be on multiple viewings.