Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial debut in Molly's Game, derived from Molly Bloom's tell-all book of the same name. It chronicles the real-life events surrounding Bloom's weekly high-stakes poker game frequented by celebrities before it was busted by the FBI. Critics give the film starring Jessica Chastain an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's what they're saying:
- "This is a 'Game' that couldn't be more fun to watch," writes Calvin Wilson at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Sorkin crafts a fast-moving tale of risky business, crammed with the kind of snappy dialogue for which he's famous" in a "stylish and absorbing" debut. "But the film wouldn't work quite as well without Chastain," who "gets deep inside Molly's skin," he writes. It's "an Oscar-worthy performance."
- "Despite Ms. Chastain's charisma and gift for delivering Mr. Sorkin's fast talk, Molly isn't interesting," writes Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, detecting a "patronizing" air in the way the protagonist receives "so much male defending." "By attempting to portray Molly as any kind of female victim—and by glossing over her culpability—Mr. Sorkin only ends up denying this character her agency," Dargis writes.
- Michael Phillips, however, thinks Molly's Game is "a good, brash biopic" and "very nearly terrific" through the first hour. Moving between the past and present, it sees Chastain nail the role of Bloom, while Idris Elba is "a godsend" as her attorney with "a lively wit and fire in the eyes," Phillips writes at the Chicago Tribune. He argues the film falters in the second half when "the writing gets blunt and a little less artful."
- Bob Mondello was impressed throughout. Thanks to a "whip-smart" cast, the "Sorkinian back-and-forth dialogue is exhilarating" and helps make "the finer points of poker—and legal maneuvering—crystal clear," a necessity in such a "dense, complicated movie," he writes at NPR. The visuals, "precisely shot and edited with nearly every trick known to contemporary filmmaking," are just as good, he adds.
(Read more movie review