Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) grew up in a highly competitive household. Her brother was a competitive skier as well as a professional football player. Her father (Kevin Costner) pushed her to her limits when it came to her own skiing. As a result of her training, she competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics. An accident during one of her runs forced her to retire from the sport.
Molly eventually begins working for Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong), a real estate agent. Molly is on call 24 hours a day for anything Dean needs. One day, Dean has Molly contact players for his underground poker game. The players include Hollywood elite, business tycoons, athletes. Only the highest level players. She is responsible for setting up the room to provide for the players as well as keep track of everyone’s buy ins for the games.
As time goes on, Molly becomes more involved in the games. She is now the key of the game. She is a favorite among the players. Without Molly, the game would inevitably fall apart. When the profits from his real estate business start sliding, Dean has to fire her. Knowing this day was coming, she comes up with a plan.
Molly rents a penthouse in a prestigious hotel and invites all of Dean’s players to the game. Everything goes better than she had planned. Players are flocking to her game. She is making more money than she ever did working for Dean. Then things take a turn.
Two years after she quit running the poker game, the FBI arrests Molly. Though she had not technically broken the law for the majority of the time, the government is investigating her ties to the Russian mob. She hires Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) to represent her in court.
Molly’s Game is based on the memoir written by Molly Bloom detailing her time running an underground poker game.
Starring as former Olympian turned poker mogul Molly Bloom, Jessica Chastain owns the screen. She commands every scene the way Molly runs her poker game. Molly knows how to cater to her clientele and give them exactly what they need to keep coming back. Handling everything from a demanding boss, to demanding players, to the Russian mob, Chastain knows what she’s doing. Her performance is excellent. Molly’s most high-profile player is simply known as Player X, played by Michael Cera. Player X is a Hollywood star and is the biggest draw to the game. Without him, Molly wouldn’t have a game. Cera gives such a convincing performance that it is hard to imagine Player X being anyone other than Michael Cera himself. The rest of the cast serve their purposes well, but Chastain and Cera are certainly the standouts.
The film tells an intriguing tale of how Bloom fell from the top to find herself skirting the edge of what is legal. What starts as a high stakes, high pressure game turns on her as quickly as it came. When the Russian mob and the FBI get involved, Molly gets in over her head, but never loses her composure. The story telling is excellent. Writer/director Aaron Sorkin weaves a tale that keeps you enthralled with the story while waiting for the hammer to drop.
I am assuming Sorkin stayed relatively faithful to Molly Bloom’s memoir, which makes the story that much more fascinating. With great performances and an interesting story, it is definitely worth seeing at the theater.