Aaron Sorkin directs Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Michael Cera in this true tale of a weekly high roller poker game that ended in FBI investigations and tabloid gossip.
Slick for sure. It almost gets away with it. This has all that pleasurable well educated, well read rat-a-tat-tat bickering you’d expect from Sorkin. And with court cases, million dollar pots and skyscraper set contract negotiations dominating the runtime it certainly appears to be a story worth telling right. Sad then that as the distastefully triumphant happy ending hovers into sight you have that niggling feeling you’ve been bluffed. I’m not entirely sure Ms Molly Poker Host is anything more than a corrupt clothes horse who got caught with her hand in a very dangerous cookie jar. The movie tries to tell me she did her illegal book with integrity and intelligence… but reading between the lines, thinking about the nasty elements that are swiftly glossed over here, I get the feeling this is hero worship revisionism, done only to give the solid Chastain another meaty yet sympathetic lead role. At the very least The Wolf of Wall Street had no qualms letting us know the scumbag whose awful excess we were revelling in was indeed an absolute, unforgivable scumbag. There’s also the perfume of faux feminism about the neat narrative. That we are meant to celebrate a sister taking on the billionaire boy’s club. But the final scenes all present father figures hauling her repenting ass out of the fire. Kindly judge. Straight laced middle aged lawyer. Bench chat, tough love, Kevin Costner actual daddy. What kind of feminist message is that? We are left with not a film about how a powerful woman took on a male dominated world and won… but a tale of a silly craven girl who got too greedy, and all because her father didn’t cuddle her enough and stay true to Mommy. Luckily she was pretty and well spoken enough for the patriarchy to forgive her. Blurghhh! A less intelligent filmmaker at the helm and you might forgive Molly’s Game, wit and good acting trumping its moral superficiality. But surely Sorkin of all people should be held to a higher standard.