Plot: Molly (Jessica Chastain) is surprised by the arrival of a small militia of FBI agent at her apartment’s door, armed to the teeth and instructed to arrest her, then haul her into custody. She was just one of numerous people caught up in the sweep, which focused on those with ties to Russian organized crime. Her involvement with these mobsters was limited to poker games, as she ran a high end, high stakes exclusive game that attracted players with wealth and power. Although she hasn’t run a game in years, she is still pulled in and pressured to turn over the names of her clients, in exchange for a more lenient sentence. She refuses to do, but as she walks her lawyer through her entire tale of high risk, high reward lifestyles, a clearer picture begins to emerge that clues her attorney in to why she won’t expose her clientele.
Entertainment Value: This movie marks the directing debut of Aaron Sorkin and for better or worse, Molly’s Game has his indelible signature all over it. As you’d expect from Sorkin, the movie is driven by dialogue and characters who are brilliant, expressive, and have impeccable wit. The writing is indeed excellent, but the issue is that this always feels like a movie, it never has a natural, real world texture. The lines are sharp and on point, but no one really talks like these characters do, which can cause a disconnect with some audiences. Molly herself is presented as a peerless mastermind, but in a cold, detached package that keeps her at arm’s reach. But while she isn’t all that likable, she is admirable and her take charge, bad ass persona drives the movie and Jessica Chastain’s performance is fantastic. She is able to convey the ambition and drive of the role, while making the most of the few opportunities to show warmth and vulnerability. Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, and Chris O’Dowd also have prominent roles, but this is the Chastain show. I found this to be a riveting thriller with some remarkable writing and performances, but I do think the lack of natural, relatable elements might keep it at a distance with some viewers.
No nakedness. The movie loves to remind us how every man on the planet lusts after Molly, but of course, she has no interest in such lurid attentions. A little blood, but not enough to be concerned about. One scene has a sudden, violent assault of a female character, while another features a fairly brutal sporting accident, but some surgery stock footage is the most gruesome element here. The dialogue here is snappy and has a artful cadence, but as I said above, the exchanges feel like movie characters talking, not like actual conversations. But as long as you can get past the artificial feel of the writing, the dialogue here is excellent and that’s good, since it carries most of the movie. The movie has a cold, sterile feel in most scenes, but that doesn’t dampen the rhythm and skill of the verbal banter. Sorkin is a master at elegant, crisp prose and that is very evident here. The tone is serious and mostly grounded, so not much to talk about in terms of craziness.
Overall Insanity: 0/10