“Molly’s Game” Premieres Today with Jessica Chastain Garnering Oscar Buzz
23 December 2017
PokerBrave (2984 articles)
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With Christmas just around the corner, time for many people might be a bit short. For those who are finished with their preparations (lucky dogs!), a movie might be in the cards. For those who have a fondness for poker, the latest attempt at a “poker movie” hits screens across the country and around the world today, with Oscar buzz aplenty.

After a long buildup Molly’s Game, the directorial debut of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that stars Jessica Chastain as the titular star of the film and Idris Elba as her attorney. If you don’t know the story of the book penned by Molly Bloom, it is the story of a plucky underdog that was able to overcome the odds and become a winner…

OK, that’s not true, at least most of it. Molly’s Game, based on the book of the same name written by Bloom, was her expose of her time running and operating the biggest cash games around. From Hollywood, where Bloom ran her game for actors, directors, and other businessmen, to New York, where hedge fund managers, stockbrokers and politicians got in the game, Bloom detailed her time hustling to make a good deal of money for herself, all from tips from the players. It also detailed the down side, which saw Bloom abuse drugs, be stalked by the Russian mob and, eventually, her arrest by federal agents for illegal gambling (Bloom says it was because she started taking a rake off her games).

The poker world has anointed the film the “next big poker film,” but Sorkin has been trying to quash those thoughts from the start. And, to be honest, there is very little poker in the film. What does make the film, however, is the star turn of Chastain, who has been nominated twice for an Academy Award but never won. That may change with Molly’s Game.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Chastain discussed her interactions with Bloom and her research into portraying the complex lady. “To understand how she got trapped by these people, this was hard, and I think I was guilty of some judgment,” the Mail quoted Chastain. “We as a society have fallen to the pattern of blaming women for things, the way they look, dismissing them, shaming them for revealing their bodies. I absolutely had that judgment before I met her.”

According to Chastain, she felt that Bloom’s reasons for creating and running these poker games – where millions of dollars were on the table and Bloom herself says she earned upwards of $4 million per year from running – was, in part, a response to her father’s treatment. “It comes from her childhood. Her dad made it clear that he made the rules,” Chastain said in the interview. “She would have to follow them until she makes her own money. So, she goes for an industry where she feels she can get that liberty.”

Much like the book, there won’t be any names mentioned in the cinematic version of Molly’s Game. Bloom, who was privy to a great deal of private information from very powerful people, chose not to broach those trusts in her tome (the closest she gets to dirt is against actor Tobey Maguire, who comes off as a douche in the book). Sorkin, in adapting Bloom’s book into a screenplay, held to that bond and didn’t reveal any dirt either.

The film itself has earned quite a bit of awards buzz for its participants. Chastain has already earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress and there is considerable attention being given to Sorkin (Adapted Screenplay), Chastain and Elba (Best Actor) for this year’s Oscars. Whether it will meet the critics’ high standards remains to be seen, however.

Molly’s Game opens today in a limited release, with a wide release set for the beginning of January. The cinemaplex is a bit crowded this weekend, with the release of Hugh Jackman’s musical The Greatest Showman, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Jumanji:  Welcome to the Jungle, and Matt Damon’s Downsizing all in the mix (and another Academy Award hopeful in All the Money in the World coming on Christmas Day). If you’ve been good and got all your Christmas responsibilities completed, some time at the cinema might be just what the doctor ordered.