This is the first movie of 2018 that was actually released in 2017. Each year, there are several films that are released in December (or before) in limited release in order to qualify for Oscar consideration, but are not released anywhere I can see them until 2018. This year there were actually a bunch of these (The Post, Shape of Water, I Tonya, Call Me By Your Name etc). A couple of years ago, I dubbed these films as ineligible for the best of the year list since they were actually from the year prior. So much so that I made its own category list for the year in review section.
Molly’s Game is the first films I have seen from that list of movies, and it should have a place near or at the top of that list next year because it is tremendous.
Molly’s Game is the true story of Molly Bloom, a near Olympic level skier who had to retire after a devastating crash only to begin running high stakes poker games with big name celebrities, athletes, and eventually, gangsters.
In this biopic, Molly (Jessica Chastain) tells the story of her life to her lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) and to the audience. The story is told both in current time and in flashbacks, where see see a young Molly bickering with her father Larry Bloom (Kevin Costner) and how her transition from athlete to “Poker Princess” came to be.
This is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote the screenplay. Sorkin is well known for his amazing dialogue writing, and this is no exception. There is a monologue delivered by Idris Elba during this movie that I literally sat in the theater with my mouth agape in wonder. I love listening to the dialogue during a Sorkin movie. This is all the more impressive as Sorkin has done a great job in the director’s chair as well. The film, which is quite long, flows very well and does not feel like it is 141 minutes.
The performances are out of this world. Jessica Chastain is great with everybody, but her scenes with Idris Elba truly steal the film. These are two actors at the top of their game with this material. Kevin Costner is better here than he has been in many years.
The character of Molly Bloom is shown as being loyal, honest and true, despite running this poker game. Molly is arrested by the FBI and offered a deal if she would turn over the information she had on the famous names that had attended her games; she refused. The film shows Molly as a caring individual who would watch out for her players as well as allow money they owed her to be forgotten. Chastain plays this woman as a great role model and he implies that she is someone to look up to.
Molly’s Game is smart, funny, and dramatic, featuring some awesome performances, especially from Chastain and Elba. The writing from Aaron Sorkin is right up there with some of his best films. I love listening to these actors speaking the lines written by Sorkin, who also knocks the director job out of the park. Molly’s Game is a great movie with an inspiring character. It certainly would have made my best films list from 2017 had I been able to see it then.