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Movie Review: “Molly’s Game”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Molly’s Game

Theatrical Release: 1/5/2018

Theatrical Release: 1/5/2018

Synopsis

Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) had a tough childhood. Her father Larry Bloom (Kevin Costner) pushed her to the absolute limit in every aspect of her life. He did this so that Molly never felt disadvantaged by being a girl in a male dominated world. He pushed her hard in school and he pushed her even harder in skiing. It was a tough childhood, but it brought her to the Olympics, where she would ski for the United States. She was a great skier, but an unfortunate accident caused her to fall while the whole world was watching, and it did permanent damage to her spine.

Molly tries to find her new place in the world and finds herself working for a shady man named Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong). Dean takes a liking to Molly and decides to give her a side job as a hostess for a high-stakes poker night. Molly quickly becomes obsessed with the game and the boost in her income. She has no interest in playing, but she soon finds herself running a very exclusive, high-stakes poker night of her own. Unfortunately, with her great success has come unwanted attention from the FBI, and it could result in her facing serious jail time.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Jessica Chastain & Molly Bloom (+10pts)

Poker Heavy (-2pts)

Layman’s Terms (+3pts)

Long & Slow (-5pts)

Idris Elba (+6pts)

Anti-Climactic (-4pts)

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Pro: Jessica Chastain & Molly Bloom (+10pts)

I found Molly Bloom to be an interesting character. She worked hard her entire life and she had everything ripped away from her due to an unfortunate accident. She then became the powerful and well respected head of a very exclusive, very high-stakes poker game. Yet through everything she still maintained her morality and self-respect. She was a strong woman and she was an interesting character to watch. She was made even more interesting by the actress playing her. Whenever I see that Jessica Chastain is in a movie, I know that it is a movie that I will try to see.

Jessica Chastain brings compelling performances to every character she plays. She has played strictly dramatic performances in movies like The Zookeeper's Wife, Miss Sloane, The Help, and Zero Dark Thirty. She has also been in her share of genre movies like Mama, Crimson Peak, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Interstellar, and It Chapter Two. Some of the movies she has been in have not been very good, but she has never been the problem. Molly’s Game is just another example of how talented this actress is, and she was a major reason why I was as interested in Molly Bloom's story as I was.

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Con: Poker Heavy (-2pts)

This story had poker in it, but it was not about poker. The story was about Molly Bloom and the trouble she found herself in due to the exclusive poker games she organized. I felt that the filmmakers got a little caught up in the poker element, as this was a pretty poker heavy movie. Molly Bloom did not play poker, but we as an audience had to sit through very poker heavy scenes. There scenes that got into specific rules and how the game was played, there were drawn out scenes showing random characters playing poker, and through all of this, I could not help but feel that it was a little irrelevant.

We have seen great poker movies before, but what made this movie interesting was its unique main character. Molly Bloom had a one-of-a-kind story and this movie was at its best when it was focusing on her transformation. There was a lot of fact- heavy, poker dialogue that I thought distracted from what made this movie unique. There needed to be some poker flavor in this movie, of course, but I thought the filmmakers gave it a little too much attention and it unnecessarily took time away from the character development of Molly Bloom.

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Pro: Layman’s Terms (+3pts)

I thought the movie was a little poker heavy, but I thought the filmmakers did a great job at explaining what was happening to audiences that knew very little about poker—like myself. I have a very limited knowledge of poker. I know that “full house” means something other than a hit sitcom from the early 90’s, and I know that getting a “flush” does not mean the player needs to use the bathroom. While I know that these are possible poker hands, I do not know exactly what they are, so that should give you an idea of my poker knowledge.

Nonetheless, I never felt lost during this movie. At the movie’s start, Molly Bloom knew very little about poker and was being introduced to the game on screen. The only terms, that the audience needed to know were explained through narration by Molly, and that was an effective tool. The movie had a lot of poker in it, but I thought the filmmakers did a very effective job of explaining necessary poker terms and ideas to the audience.

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Con: Long & Slow (-5pts)

I liked the movie, do not get me wrong, but I felt that it was about thirty minutes too long. The movie was slow-paced, and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it made this movie feel a lot longer than it was. The story had three major elements. It had the character development of Molly Bloom, it had poker, and it had the lawsuit.

We learned about Molly‘s childhood and her relationship with her father. We also saw her introduced to and studying the game of poker, and all of this was narrated by Molly, as she was telling her whole story to her lawyer. Jumping back and forth between these things made it the movie feel choppy. It also made it feel like Molly was rambling quite a bit, for the audience's benefit, and it made the movie feel long and drawn out, because it covered so much of Molly's life. There was a decent story here, but I thought the movie would have been better off if the filmmakers had refined it a bit more.

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Pro: Idris Elba (+6pts)

What can I say? This guy is great. Idris Elba is a great actor with a great on-screen presence. He is always able to add unique flavor to his characters, and this movie was no different. In Molly’s Game, Idris Elba played Charlie Jaffey, a reputable lawyer who was trying to decide if he should take Molly’s case.

Charlie had high morals and he was trying to be a positive role model for his daughter. He did not believe that Molly was innocent or the kind of person that his daughter should look up to. Molly must try to convince him otherwise, and this was really the plot of the movie and Charlie's role in it. It was an interesting character, and I thought Idris Elba knocked it out of the park like I expected him to.

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Con: Anti-Climactic (-4pts)

I cannot speak for everyone, but I did not know Molly Bloom’s story before seeing this movie. More specifically, I did not know the ending of the movie before it happened. As a result, I thought the ending was pretty anti-climactic. This movie was a bit of a slow burn, as we got about two hours worth of rising action.

Molly’s story just kept building and building, growing more and more intense as we learned more about what Molly had gotten herself into. Then the movie just threw the climax out there, and it kind of killed all of the intensity that was built so well over the course of the previous two hours. The rising action of the movie was interesting and worth seeing, but the climax sort of dropped the ball. I know this is based on a true story, but the filmmakers needed an ending fitting for a movie, and this was not it.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (83pts)

Molly’s Game was about the interesting story of Molly Bloom. Watching the transformation of this character was compelling and watching Jessica Chastain in the role made it even better. Jessica Chastain never disappoints and this movie is further proof of that. In this movie she played a proud, confident woman who was once an Olympic skier, but was now an organizer of high-stakes poker games, a job that got her into quite a bit of trouble. It was an interesting role, and Jessica Chastain did a great job with it.

Idris Elba was great he was on screen as well, but his character was not on screen a whole lot. The filmmakers also did a good job explaining the poker terms and concepts they used, but I thought the movie ended up being so poker heavy, that it made poker feel like an irrelevant distraction. The filmmakers tried to cram a lot of Molly Bloom‘s life into this movie, and it resulted in a movie that felt long and slow at times. Fortunately, Molly Bloom had an inherently interesting story, and she was played by the talented Jessica Chastain in a fairly compelling way.

Comments

Mother of Movies and Series Reviews from Moreton Bay, Queensland on March 22, 2018:

Great movie. I love poker and this was really well done