Main cast: Jessica Chastain (Molly Bloom), Idris Elba (Charlie Jaffey), Kevin Costner (Larry Bloom), Michael Cera (Player X), Brian d’Arcy James (Brad), Chris O’Dowd (Douglas Downey), JC MacKenzie (Harrison Wellstone), Bill Camp (Harlan Eustice), Graham Greene (Judge Foxman), and Jeremy Strong (Dean Keith)
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Long after the credits have rolled, I am still not sure why we need this movie. Molly’s Game details the rise and fall of Molly Bloom, whose spine injury kept her out of the Winter Olympics. She left home, estranged from her control freak father who is also a serial philanderer, and ends up finding her way into managing her own poker games. Her games attract wealthy people – actors, athletes, royalty, et cetera – from all over the world. They make her wealthy, but she ends up addicted to all kinds of drugs in the process. Her insistence on keeping her games clean cause a large chunk of bad debts to pile up, racking up the financial risk she faces as time passes, and she also attracts the attraction of mob folks who want a share of her pie. Also, despite her insistence on running a clean operation, her clientele inadvertently includes some shady members of organized crime and, oops, here comes the FBI.
This movie unfurls as Jessica Chastain’s Molly either tells her story to the lawyer Charlie Jaffey or when she decides to just stare pensively as the movie cuts to flashback scene from Molly’s past. And, frankly, despite the fact that she and Idris Elba do a solid job in their roles, this movie has disquieting Hallmark overtones. Mr Elba’s character is essentially another noble Negro character that white people in Hollywood love to write about when they are feeling woke, and poor Ms Chastain is saddled with some unfortunate lines that make her character come off as needlessly smug and self righteous.
And the movie is just bewildering. On one hand, it pays some lip service about how Molly kept doing what she did because she was addicted to the fame and the power over rich, powerful men that her casino operations brought her, but the movie spends a bulk of its two hours and twenty minutes running time passing off her plight as (a) some kind of feminine affirmative action against the patriarchy, (b) a conspiracy by the evil FBI to get incriminating evidence on her clients, and (c) the culmination of years after years of daddy issues. The end impression I get is that this movie is doing its best to let Molly not be held accountable for her actions, instead trying to pass her off as some annoyingly feisty, sassy victim of circumstance as well as the evil patriarchy.
Also, the timing of this movie can’t be any worse. The conflict of this story is basically Molly not wanting to share any information on her clients, even if doing so will get the FBI off her back and send some really bad people to jail, because she doesn’t want to betray the honor of her name or some nonsense. Given how Hollywood spent a year trying to deflect accusations of massive cover-ups of sexual assaults and other unflattering charges, the folks in that place making a movie honoring a woman whose sole virtuous trait is her determination to cover up the hedonistic excesses of these rich people is just… unfortunate. That their hangers-on then rush to shower praise and awards on this movie only reinforces the notion that, fairly or unfairly, Molly’s Game is just another example of how self-centered and out of touch that these Hollywood types are, trying to pass off their own degradation and depravities as virtue signaling.
At the end of the day, who’s Molly Bloom anyway? A daughter from a wealthy, privileged white family who made it big running several casinos, only to lose the whole thing when she ends up falling into bad company. And then she wrote a book to portray herself as a noble victim who only did what she did to make Daddy love her, and oh, she’s so noble because she refuses to rat out on her clients even if it means going to jail and getting raped by everyone there 24/7, so felicitate her people. because she’s so woke and awesome like that. That’s what Aaron Sorkin did, as well as those people who praise this movie and give it oodles of awards, all because some chick that is willing to take the fall for their own sins, racism, debauchery, and all-around worthlessness is now the pinnacle of being woke.
Oh, sod off.