Top positive review
Jessica Chastain’s performance & Molly Bloom’s story make this film
16 August 2018
This film, starring Jessica Chastain, is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, a potential Olympic skier whose career was cut short by injury and, needing a new occupation, part by accident and part by her own initiative when she saw an opportunity, ended up making a lot of money organising illegal, discreet, very high stakes poker games for the rich and famous.
Eventually caught and threatened with the possibility of years in prison unless she informs on the wealthy and sometimes famous players involved, Molly insists that now she has lost her money and business she will not give up one of the few things she has left: her integrity. She refuses to betray anyone’s secrets, no matter what the legal system may do to her.
If you do not know the story already, the ending is slightly surprising.
You do not need to be interested in poker or gambling to like this film. All you really need to understand about poker is that it is a card game designed to be played for money and that a large part of the skill is to work out by observing other players’ behaviour and expressions how strong a hand they think they hold, while giving nothing away yourself, or else actively misleading them as to the strength of your own hand.
There are disc ‘Special Features’ including brief fragments of interviews with the real Molly Bloom, whose story inspired this film, and the actress who portrays her, Jessica Chastain. I wish these were longer and less intercut with other material so as to form a clearer impression of what the real Molly Bloom, and Jessica Chastain when not in character, are actually like, and learned more about the life the real Molly has lived since the events shown in the film and how the experience has affected her.
In ‘Molly’s Game’, as with two other films of Jessica Chastain’s, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Miss Sloane’, the character Ms Chastain plays and her performance dominate the film. Everyone else, even if good, is just supporting cast.
‘Molly’s Game’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Miss Sloane’ are set in quite different situations and the characters Jessica C plays are all different, although there are also some similarities. All three films are good. My own favourite is ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, about the killing of Osama bin Laden, but that is a more consistently serious film. Some viewers may prefer a slightly lighter film like ‘Molly's Game’.
While this is a drama rather than a morality tale, there may still be some morals:
-By running a business outside the law, Molly made herself vulnerable to criminals much nastier and more ruthless than she was. If someone violently robbed her of the takings from an illegal gambling game she could not call the police or claim on insurance; if someone involved in the game cheated her she could not sue them for her money.
-Seeing a few of the players ruined, even driven to suicide, and thinking about what the effect must have been on their families, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that high stakes gambling, even for the rich, is a bad idea really. One of the cleverest players admits to Molly that he does not even like Poker that much as a game; what he enjoys is the opportunity it gives him to ruin people.