Molly’s Game (or Apuesta Maestra as it is called in Spanish) is acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut. He also wrote this film and as expected from someone whose back catalogue of scripts contains A Few Good Men, The Social Network and Moneyball, it does not let us down.
We first meet Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) as she is trying to qualify for the Olympics as a skier. Alas, this is not to be and she ends up working for a deadbeat boss in Los Angeles and running his weekly poker game, which just happens to be frequented by movie stars, boxers and billionaires. This leads to her running her own game – one of the most exclusive underground poker events you could wish to find in both the City of Angels and the Big Apple. This in turn leads to an investigation by the FBI which introduces us to her potential lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba). I am glad to say Elba is back on form after his role in A Mountain Between Us.
Along with Jaffey, we discover much about Molly Bloom in these meetings and both the American and the Brit put in decent showings with some scintillating scenes between the pair. In the acting department, honorable mentions go to Michael Cera, Kevin Costner and Chris O’Dowd. Cera’s character is Player X, who despite having wealth, fame and a legion of fans, needs to “destroy lives”. (When you discover who this character is in real life, I guarantee your opinion of him will drop faster than a fat man without a parachute.) Costner is Molly’s pushy father, and Irishman O’Dowd is another of Molly’s customers who likes to drink too much and starts every sentence as if he is a character directly out of a detective novel.
Throughout this true story we have intrigue, glamour and get to see the best and worst of people. As well as the rich and famous, Molly’s tale introduces us to the Russian mafia and Italian mob. My only real criticism is that the card scenes could have been explained a little better for those of us who don’t play poker.
This week’s star of the show is Jessica Chastain who puts in a very convincing performance as the alluring “Poker Princess”. Overall a bloomin’ good film – 7.5.