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TIFF Review: Molly’s Game

A former Olympic skier runs an exclusive high stakes poker game and gets indicted for illegal gambling.

With the FBI arresting Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) at gunpoint, the accused narrates her backstory which is intercut with the present-day prosecution; she expertly explains the ins and outs of skiing and running a gambling operation.  Looming large over the proceedings is the combative and strained relationship Bloom has with her father.

There is no doubt that Aaron Sorkin is the master of writing rapid and quick-witted dialogue and the talent is on full display in his feature film directorial debut.  If the characters are not exchanging one liners with each other then the protagonist is narrating with a sharp tongue.  Sorkin also loves to incorporate statistics into the conversation as he does with his television shows.  This time he is able to incorporate fancy graphics to explain the intricate mechanics of playing poker.

A fun on-screen pairing is Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba who plays her initially reluctant lawyer; the two have a great chemistry and are equally matched when it comes to verbally sparring with each other.  The editing is slick along with the cinematography which places the viewer in the middle of the action but avoiding the usual shaky handheld approach.  As much as Sorkin champions her cause and Molly is charming, it is hard to feel entirely empathetic for her as she gets in over her head.  Daddy issues come into a play as a way of explaining the actions of the protagonist which has certainly become a cliché nowadays.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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