Aaron Sorkin makes a strong directorial debut with MOLLY’S GAME

Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game

Bold, hard-hitting and hugely entertaining, Aaron Sorkin makes a strong directorial debut with MOLLY’S GAME

With screenplays such as A FEW GOOD MEN, MONEYBALL and THE SOCIAL NETWORK to his name, it’s hard to believe that it’s taken this long for Aaron Sorkin to step behind the camera. Naturally then, expectations are high for Sorkin’s directorial debut, MOLLY’S GAME, a poker thriller about the life of Molly Bloom.

Based on real life events, MOLLY’S GAME tells the story of “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a former Olympic-class skier who made a fortune running the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game. Molly’s players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. When she finds herself at the centre of an FBI sting into illegal gambling operations, her only ally is criminal defence lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Elba), who learns there is much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe.

Bold, hard-hitting and hugely entertaining, Sorkin brings his own unique style to Molly Bloom’s incredible life story in MOLLY’S GAME. Bouncing back and forth in time from Molly’s early family life to her Manhattan high rise filled with booze and drugs, this fast-paced poker thriller has you gripped to its story from start to finish.

Those who are familiar with Sorkin’s previous work will know the screenwriter-turned-director is best known for his whip-smart fast-talking dialogue and his first foray behind the camera is very similar in style. Playing with images and graphics, Sorkin takes inspiration from fellow directors Rob Reiner and David Fincher to deliver a fast-paced, intelligent piece of filmmaking. His screenplay is equally strong, with the interplay between Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba particularly standing out.

Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game

Jessica Chastain is undoubtedly the star of the film here, commanding the screen with her physical presence and smart delivery, despite her character’s cynical and detached demeanor. Idris Elba equally gives a strong performance as her lawyer Charlie Jaffey, giving a good balance to the storyline and has good chemistry with Chastain.

Other notable performances include Michael Cera who is chilling as “Player X”, a famous actor and one of Molly’s earliest card players, whose charisma and charm soon turns into nastiness, as well as Kevin Costner who puts in a scene-stealing turn as Molly’s father.

Yet, while Sorkin’s directorial debut entertains for the most part, at a bum-aching 140 minutes, the film is way too long and would benefit the odd trim here and there. The pacing is also a little too frantic at times with the camera jumping from the action of a poker table to flashbacks of Molly’s relationship with her father, all delivered with a fast-paced voiceover from Molly as the narrator.

That said, on the whole, this is a strong directorial debut from Sorkin. His keen eye for detail, particularly during the poker scenes, is also to be commended, with Sorkin delivering the otherwise complex information in an accessible, entertaining and engaging way.

3.5 out of 5 stars

MOLLY’S GAME is released in UK cinemas from 1 January 2018.