Monday, January 29, 2018

MOVIE REVIEW: Molly's Game

We got the chance to take off for an evening a couple of weeks ago and have a date night.  I wanted to see The Post, but it wasn't playing at a convenient time.  My wife really wanted to see the Aaron Sorkin directed movie Molly's Game, and it was playing nearby and at the right time, so we went to it.

We saw the show at the New 400 Cinema, which is kind of a lower budget movie house near the Loyola Campus.  Although we didn't get any popcorn, they don't gouge you nearly as much on that stuff, and you don't feel like you are giving your money to a giant corporation.  So, it's one of my go-to cinemas in general.  Their selection is tilted towards a college audience, so it’s not always an appropriate place to go, but when they have a movie I want, we go.

Molly's Game was quite good. It's based on a true story about a former competitive skier who was driven by her parents to succeed.  A shocking injury ended her career, but she was still very driven and very competitive.  Through a series of misadventures, she ended up running a very high-end poker game first in LA, and then in New York.  She gets busted by the FBI, who are investigating some of the players, including Russian mob, billionaires, and movie stars.

Kevin Costner and Jessica Chastaine have a moment
in the movie Molly's Game.
All of the players were good, especially lead character Jessica Chastain (as Molly Bloom)  and her potential attorney Idris Elba.  And of course, the writing and the story are very well drawn, as should be expected from dialogue master Aaron Sorkin.  In the podcast West Wing Weekly, the hosts recently said something about the fact that Aaron writes really interesting Legal Discovery procedures, and that theory is born out in this movie as well.

One of the themes that I thought was very a propos for this blog is that of the dad who drives his children.  Molly's dad (ably played by Kevin Costner) is a psychologist who expects a lot from his kids.  There are multiple shots and flashbacks of him pushing Molly past her physical barriers (not in a creepy or weird way, but in a driven way.)  As Molly says when asked if her dad pushed her.  "Every Olympian has a demanding dad."

Idris Elba is also a high expectations dad, who is asking his daughter constantly to read more, do more work, etc.  It made me not feel so bad about being a homework hardass with my son.

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in court.  This ends up being a very funny scene.

It's not all "Dads are great" though.  Molly's father has flaws, but it's clear he loves his daughter, even if it isn't always the way she wants to be loved.  And Elba has flaws too as a father.  But in both cases, their love and care is evident, even if they can't quite express it, or it isn't all butterflies and hearts.

I would definitely recommend this movie.  I don't think it will win the Academy Award, (although it's nominated for best-adapted screenplay)  but it's definitely worth watching, especially if you are a high expectations dad and you want some validation.  Or if you are an Aaron Sorkin fan.  Or if you like movies that involve high stakes poker.  (I won the trifecta!)



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