You hear that Drector-Writer Aaron Sorkin of Molly’s Game, and previously of TV’s West Wing, has a love of dialog, lots of it, virtually nonstop, blah-blah-blah. You hear right. If you go to Molly’s Game, you’ll long for a long silent pause. You might even find yourself recalling that Hitchcock learned a lot about showing stories by his early work in Silents. Sorkin is all tell and no show, and he should immediately enroll in a Silents course. People wouldn’t be able to sit around endlessly in a poker parlor and gab-gab-gab, eventually conveying chickens running in circles: bok-bok-bok.
The movie is a biopic (uh-oh, Strike Two) of one-time Olympic skier Molly Bloom who runs big-time poker games in Los Angeles and New York attracting high rollers–athletes, actors, hedge fund managers, Russian mafia, Ponzi schemers still unrecognized and the ilk. That is, until the FBI closes her down. Momentarily you ask yourself, Why do I want to see an extended treatment of these jerks? Obsessives, druggies, financial criminals–they aren’t very dramatic when you think about it. Yes, I know you can see it in your mind’s eye: It’s Hollywood, and the usual kinds of sketchy types are paraded around and virtually pushed into doing nothing redeeming.
I see Oscar here, though, of the supporting actor variety, for Idris Elba, who plays Molly’s lawyer Charlie when she has fallen into trouble with the FBI: Charlie is the only estimable character in the movie. But their attorney-client relationship is not very sharply drawn, and the room to act toward one another with some grace is never there for long. And it must be said that often Charlie doesn’t seem to make sense as a character advancing the action.
Chastain is one of the great actors today, and you hope she moves on quickly to better movies far beyond this boring talkathon.