Thoughts on Molly’s Game (2017)

Aaron Sorkin wearing two hats (screenwriter and director) makes Molly’s Game (2017) the Sorkin-iest film I’ve ever seen, with the famous staccato Sorkin dialogue bleeding into the staccato graphics (recalling The Big Short (2015)), the staccato editing, and even the staccato narrative structure. The story is chock full of information, but on reflection, there’s only just enough to give viewers the sense of understanding, but not actual knowledge—just enough to let them accept what’s being fed them and move on to the next thing. Strange as it may seem, this film is light fare.

The genuinely most enjoyable part of the film is watching Michael Cera reveal his villainous side; he’s on a bit of a roll, after playing a clingy, sex-crazed cokehead in This Is the End (2013). The expected delights are here in spades: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, and Chris O’Dowd all doing fine work, and the dialogue overfilled with wit and highbrow humor (Ulysses joke, anyone?). But tonally, the film can be boiled down to the shot, shown in the trailer, where Chastain leans back to dodge something being thrown at her (it’s bagels): perfect timing, exaggerated lean angle, and an expression that says, “we are not amused.” Someone needs to teach Sorkin how to chill.

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