Saturday, 5 May 2018

MOLLY'S GAME (film) loses the plot

MOLLY'S GAME - 2017
Director: Aaron Sorkin. 
Cast: Jessica Chastain / Idris Elba / Kevin Costner / Micheal Cera /
Score: Daniel Pemberton.
Cinematography: Charlotte Bruus Christensen.
Content Advisory: R for language, drug content, and some violence.
Source: Rented.

The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.





I've been following this film ever since it was first announced and was already excited to watch it because of Chastain starring. After reading Molly's story, I was even more convinced I needed to see it on screen.


The music is cool, the cinematography is sharp and smart (which took me by surprise considering Christensen did a mediocre job with The Girl on the Train), and the snazzy editing makes the scenes energetic, electric, and edgy. The scenography could be better, but the colours are on point. Overall, it's a solid spectacle.

But Molly's story could've been conveyed so much better. The movie is utterly overburdened with exposition. Jessica Chastain frequently narrates as Molly's character, and that narration takes away from showing us - the viewers - who the characters are. We are told too much, instead of seeing for ourselves how Molly's actions and the people around her move the plot forward.
I also think the scenes' sequence could've been rearranged to make a more fluid storyline. We flash between Molly's childhood, her years as a rising woman of business, and her current dilemma alongside her lawyer, Charlie Jaffey. It's all rather episodic, and I think Molly's journey could've been stronger had it been portrayed as one consistent story line instead of flashing between different periods in her life. If the writers had stuck with just her present situation and her childhood, that could've worked, but they don't even do that.


The plot moves fast, but it isn't gripping. Most scenes aren't nearly as intense or as effective as they could be. In the whole movie, only three scenes really made an impact on me: Harlan's losing at the poker table (that hit me like a punch in the gut), Molly getting attacked in her apartment (that was so intense and horrific), and Molly's conversation with her father towards the end of the film (the acting in that scene is brilliant, and the long festering conflict between Molly and her father comes to a satisfying, heartbreaking head). Otherwise, the movie's scenes are weak. The characters often don't have much to talk about, and there's often little conflict to drive the scene. The writing ends up trying too hard giving the characters petty things to discuss, or trying to draw out - and effectively killing - the gems of conflict already there (many scenes between Molly and Jaffey are like that). In one scene between Molly and Charlie where they're arguing, the dialogue is particularly overwrought and the actors appear to be struggling with a scene that seems to be going nowhere.
It's a waste. It's writing trying too hard.

The performances are exceptional. Jessica Chastain is as captivating as always, but it's Kevin Costner and Idris Elba who steal the show. Both have great chemistry with Chastain, and they're excellent in their vastly different roles. Costner, especially, is brilliant as Molly's father.




Molly's Game is an edgy, witty debut from Sorkin with excellent performances from its leads. But it's too heavy on exposition, and the most scenes are weaker than the story deserves.  

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