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Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game (category IIB), directed by Aaron Sorkin, and also starring Idris Elba and Kevin Costner.

Review | Molly’s Game film review: Jessica Chastain plays poker legend in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut

Sorkin goes into great detail about the life of Mary Bloom, who ran a high stakes poker ring for a decade, in this film. As a result, he dilutes the story by injecting way too much information into the tale

2.5/5 stars

There’s a saying that moderation is key, and that is true of Molly’s Game, the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin. Best known for penning the snappy dialogue and intercutting narratives of the Oscar-nominated The Social Network, Sorkin gives a lot more of the same with his based-on-real-life story of Molly Bloom.

Bloom (Jessica Chastain) is a former Olympic-level skier who spent a decade running high stakes poker games for big shots in Los Angeles and New York. But without someone else on set to tighten Sorkin’s ambitiously verbose script, we’re left with a long and overly dramatic film that stretches itself too thin by the third act.

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Just the poker saga of Bloom’s life – she moved to LA in 2003 to work as a cocktail waitress and by 2006 had names like Leonardo DiCaprio on her speed dial – would be interesting enough. But Sorkin delves in way too deep, covering Bloom’s childhood, rebellious teenage years and resentment toward her authoritative father (Kevin Costner), her Olympic dreams, and finally, how she got into, and ruled, the world of underground poker.

Kevin Costner and Chastain star alongside each other in Molly's Game.

While the main timeline focuses on Bloom two years after her game got raided by government authorities as she and lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) attempt to free herself of legal troubles, these multiple timelines often sap the film of momentum.

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Molly’s Game is marketed as a poker film, but it’s full of what American pop culture fans have dubbed “Sorkinese”, meaning nobody here talks like a normal person. Everyone has 500-word monologues full of four syllable words ready to throw at the opposing party. Even children in the film are not immune.

Idris Elba (left) plays Molly’s lawyer.

At least Sorkin found the perfect actress to deliver his soliloquies. Chastain has built a career out of playing no-nonsense, iron-willed women who can own a room full of powerful men, and she is as good as ever here. Molly’s Game is purely for fans of Sorkin or Chastain, however.

Molly’s Game opens on March 8

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