Happy New Year! Whether you ushered in 2018 all dolled up at a party or cozy in your sweats watching the ball drop, I hope it was a wonderful first few hours of the new year. I spent the evening (and early morning) at my cousin's wedding. It was a black tie affair at the Seaport World Trade Center and it rivaled any Jay Gatsby party.
I am ecstatic that the first Sunday of 2018 is also the night of the Golden Globe Awards. I have been furiously trying to see all the nominated films. So far I've made it to Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, I, Tonya and Molly's Game.
I just saw Molly's Game this weekend. From the minute I heard about the film I knew I had to see it. First, because my name is in the title; second, because it stars Jessica Chastain, who I love; third, because the screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin; and fourth, because it's about gambling and poker, which is generally a great premise for any drama.
The coolest thing about Molly's Game is that it's based on a true story. The movie is inspired by Molly Bloom's autobiography of the same title, published in June 2014. Aaron Sorkin penned the script (and directed), adding his signature, rapid-fire dialogue. In the film, Molly narrates all of the events that you see play out on screen. In addition to watching what's happening, you also get to hear her commentary. It made you feel like she was telling her story directly to you.
Jessica Chastain stars as Molly, first as a teenager and then as a high-powered poker goddess in her twenties. Fun fact: Molly was an incredible skier and a member of the U.S. national team. At one point in time she was ranked third in the country. After a terrible crash during one of her qualifying runs for the Olympics, she decided to take a step back, shake up her life and move to Los Angeles.
It was in L.A. that her boss (at an entry-level, secretarial job) requested her help to plan his weekly poker game. She knew nothing about cards, but started researching like crazy. She was ridiculously smart (a theme throughout the movie) and picked up the rules, the terms and the common habits very quickly. When the players started to favor her over her boss, he cut her loose and she decided to start her own private game.
In the autobiography, Molly reveals the names of a few of the celebrities who played in her weekly game - Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire. In fact, one of the characters in the movie, Player X, is based on Maguire. Michael Cera plays him in what The New York Times calls "a wonderful, insinuatingly creepy performance" that "turns into a portrait of Hollywood entitlement and moral rot." Ouch, Tobey.
Chris O'Dowd, who captured my heart in Bridesmaids, plays another Hollywood A-lister who falls in love with Molly and calls her drunkenly every night.
The film also stars Idris Elba as Molly's attorney and Kevin Costner as her whip-cracking father. Elba gets some fantastic banter and a killer monologue, thanks to Sorkin.
Though the pace of the film is quick, the movie clocks in at two hours and twenty minutes, which definitely felt long. When the credits rolled, no one stood up, hoping there would be some real life photos shared at the end. That didn't happen, which made me all the more interested in reading her book.
What's most fascinating about Molly Bloom is that she seems able to learn anything and then excel at it. She moved to Los Angeles, and later New York, without any personal connections and built one of the most high-stakes poker games in the world, a game she had never even played before.
The movie is definitely worth seeing and Jessica Chastain certainly earned that Golden Globe nomination.