Molly’s Game (R)

Starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, Molly’s Game is based on the autobiography of Molly Bloom, an  Olympic skier whose athletic career was thwarted at an early age. Years later, Molly wound up running the country’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and getting into a some trouble with the law.

I would say that Molly’s Game is a cautionary tale every teen and young adult should watch so they learn there really are no shortcuts, and if they use their powers and gifts for good instead of evil, they may be able to have a decent life; but I cannot. Molly’s Game is an anti-cautionary tale with no moral to it whatsoever. Instead of going to college, this young woman found herself associating with gambling addicts (a $250,000 a game buy-in makes participation more than a hobby), and later, mobsters. She went from being a world class athlete to a drug addict, beaten bloody and robbed. She plunged herself into this toilet bowl of a world, and was so arrogant and naive she expected to come out of it unscathed. Even after the beating/robbery, she continued on and she was later targeted by the FBI in connection with Russian mob dealings she had nothing to do with. As the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

The parent in me couldn’t help but think that if she had only listened to her father and gone to school she wouldn’t have almost gotten herself killed by the Russian mob, had an FBI file, nor become a drug addict and a felon. The main thing that displeased me about this movie is how the story ended. Usually, I don’t discuss plot in movies this way, but it is necessary here. Since the movie has been out so long, I’m going to proceed with the assumption that if you wanted to see it in the theater, by now you probably would have done so. In the end, Molly is portrayed as this noble, “no snitching,” stand-up sort of gal, when in actuality, she was very foolish. She had an opportunity to walk away with the millions the FBI seized from her (with interest) and a clean record if she turned in emails and recordings of her clients, and she chose not to; citing that she wanted to keep her “good name.” Girl, please! …But what do I know, because of course, things turned out just fine for Molly in the end (thus the anti-cautionary tale part of it all), because although she may have lost all her millions, has a felony record and cannot vote ever again, she wrote a book about her life which was adapted into a movie starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, and she currently earns good money touring the country teaching women the things she learned about business while running her big time gambling operation. Must be nice to have everything work out so well.

I find it difficult to feel sympathetic toward a character, real or fictional, who created the circumstances that led to all her woes. She wasn’t born into poverty, her parents weren’t negligent degenerates and/or drug addicts, she wasn’t some orphan brought up in foster homes, she didn’t have to start a gambling ring to survive, feed a child or keep from living in the streets. She had all her fingers, toes and limbs. She was an otherwise intelligent and capable girl.  She started and grew the largest poker game in America because she was wanted to.  She was naive, greedy and had a big ego that dictated whatever she did, she had to be the best at it without taking into account any measure of common sense (which would have dictated she NOT go forth with this bad idea). The fact that it all works out in the end for her is another reason I couldn’t find myself caring about this character. Where is the lesson? Where’s the consequence? Where’s the struggle? The overcoming? The triumph? The metamorphosis? What is the moral of this movie? You can do terrible things, break laws, associate with slime, and it may go wrong for a little while; but don’t worry – you can be like Molly, and it will aaaaall work out for you in the end? I mean, I’m glad the lady didn’t have to do hard time and was able to pull her life back together somehow, and I’m glad somebody was able to “beat the system,” in a sense, but it doesn’t make for great storytelling or the greatest ending to a movie for me.

Problems with the actual story aside (which it is Molly’s story as she tells it through her eyes, so I guess it is what it is…), everything else about this movie is well done. Chastain and Elba work so well together and have such great chemistry and timing here they are truly a joy to watch. Aaron Sorkin did a fine job directing and the supporting cast did well.

Molly’s Game earned 7.5 out of 8. It’s a good movie, worth seeing (it gets an unofficial bump up to 8 out of 10 bloops because of the fine acting of and chemistry between Chastain and Elba). I don’t know Molly, but she must have some sort of anointing on her life to come out of all she went through unscathed. That is the bigger and more interesting part of the story in my humble opinion. Keep in mind, Molly’s Game runs 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it’s definitely worth a stream at home.

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1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing/reviewing next…

Black  Panther, of course! See you tomorrow afternoon with that.

Other Reviews

A Wrinkle in Time
Lady Bird
I, Tonya
The Florida Project
Black Panther
Molly’s Game
The Post
Phantom Thread
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Thor: Ragnarok
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

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