REVIEW: ‘Molly’s Game’ Is Entertaining But Lacks Depth

“Molly’s Game” is a film certainly filled with talent, both in its acting and writing. However, this isn’t necessarily a picture to go all in on.

The film tells two intertwined tales, both revolving around the same real life figure, Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain). One of them is about how Molly created a high-stakes poker game which led to large amounts of wealth and its own share of problems.

The other takes place in the ‘present day,’ where her game was exposed by authorities and she needs to build a legal defense. In doing the latter, Molly gets help from a lawyer named Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who becomes her legal counsel.

The biggest strength of “Molly’s Game” is its entertainment value. The movie features a fast paced road to riches story with Molly’s rise as well as an intriguing legal drama featuring great banter between the two lead characters.

Tying things together for a pretty good product was the script written by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin (who also directed). For example, the lead character’s dialogue is sharp and snappy, especially when Molly solidifies the foundation for her business. As she runs the show, much of her dialogue is witty and it lets on how smart she is. Additionally, the script includes great back-and-forth conversation between Molly and Charlie.

While it’s entertaining to watch, though, “Molly’s Game” lacks a bit in its depth, especially from its titular character. At the end of the day, everything seemed to boil down to her still being angry at her father. This is based on a true story, so I’m guessing the real Molly actually had these feelings. However, the execution of the ‘angry at a strict parent’ thing seemed cliche’d and even a bit forced, here.

It also seemed as though Molly’s fall after her significant rise in wealth isn’t that well dealt with from a psychological level. The movie shows her becoming addicted to drugs and increasingly stressed from the situation she’s in, but it doesn’t really translate to the audience. For much of the film Molly is the same character and her reaching a sort of breaking point didn’t carry much weight.

Despite these issues, Chastain still gives a great performance in the role. She’s charismatic and has tremendous screen presence. She’s very convincing as the strategic, smooth operating person in charge of an operation. It should also be noted that Chastain has great chemistry with Idris Elba, who gives another high-caliber performance.

This picture features some award-level acting and is an entertaining watch overall. However, it still has its share of issues that pull it back from being one of 2017’s best. 3.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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