Aaron Sorkin goes all in from the di­rec­tor’s chair for ‘Molly’s Game’


Amid all the movies that dis­tin­guished them­selves at this year’s Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, per­haps no movie did so with words more than Molly’s Game. The film is a mo­tor­mouth-y throw­back, the kind that in the age of images and spec­ta­cle grooves to what movies once grooved to: well-crafted di­a­logue.

But what else would you ex­pect from the fea­ture di­rec­to­rial de­but of Aaron Sorkin?

“I don’t think it will come as a sur­prise to any­one I love lan­guage. It’s the only way I have of com­mu­ni­cat­ing cre­atively,” says Sorkin, the Emmy-win­ning cre­ator of The West Wing and Os­car-win­ning screen­writer of The So­cial Net­work. “I can’t draw; I can’t write mu­sic. I don’t see in my head what David Lean saw with camels com­ing up [over the hori­zon]. This is how I do it.”

Molly’s Game, which hits the­aters on Christ­mas Day, will test more than just ears: it will gauge whether Sorkin, whose hits as a screen­writer stretch from A Few Good Men to Money­ball, can ap­peal to mass au­di­ences as a di­rec­tor too.

A fact-based story about the real-life poker-game op­er­a­tor Molly Bloom (Jes­sica Chas­tain), the drama fol­lows the ti­tle char­ac­ter as she mas­ter­minds an un­der­ground game for the mega-rich and fa­mous in Los An­ge­les and New York, try­ing to out­ma­neu­ver her en­e­mies and avoid call­ing ev­ery­one out when she lands on the le­gal hot seat.

When Bloom speaks – in voice-over, in hag­gling with a com­pos­ite-char­ac­ter su­per-player (Michael Cera), in con­ver­sa­tions with her lawyer (Idris Elba), it’s es­sen­tially non­stop – the movie is max­i­mum Sorkin. It of­fers a con­tin­u­ous stream of elo­quent gems, all while putting its peo­ple where Sorkin most likes them: at the nexus of moral­ity and op­por­tu­nity.

“We live in a time when peo­ple sell each other out and the rest of us don’t seem to mind,” the film­maker says. “And here was some­one that it just came nat­u­rally to – not to do the wrong thing.”

Chas­tain adds that, though Bloom was ul­ti­mately run­ning a game for her own profit and makes “very, very bad choices” through­out the film, “she’s ab­so­lutely a role model, be­cause she didn’t give away what she be­lieved was right just for money or fame.”

The ac­tress laughs about get­ting her brain to work at Sorkin speed, say­ing it helped that she had learned to perform the work of a wide range of mod­ern writ­ers while study­ing act­ing at Juil­liard.

Sorkin says he doesn’t see him­self as a stylist, though Molly’s Game does have a cer­tain di­rec­to­rial flair, a sort of quick-cut ap­peal that mir­rors his di­a­logue. Sorkin worked with a team of three edi­tors to achieve this ef­fect. (“My di­rec­to­rial style is say­ing yes to re­ally tal­ented peo­ple when they have a good idea,” he said dryly at a press con­fer­ence at Toronto.)

The movie also lands in the midst of an on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion about fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Hol­ly­wood. Sorkin has taken his lumps on the topic, ab­sorb­ing crit­i­cism that his fe­male char­ac­ters aren’t given suf­fi­cient depth or of­ten need to be re­deemed by men.

That no­tion would seem to be given the lie here, with Bloom the ul­ti­mate in char­ac­ter au­ton­omy; even her afore­men­tioned lawyer is some­one who bows to her, not the other way around.

“I think Molly is a great fem­i­nist icon. She cares about the right stuff, which we kind of for­get be­cause she says a lot of things very fast,” Sorkin said. He noted the gen­der dy­nam­ics that Bloom must con­tend with of­ten in­volve “some pow­er­ful guy [throw­ing a tantrum] be­cause he feels Molly is at­tracted to some other pow­er­ful guy.”

Chas­tain be­lieves the movie will quell skep­ti­cism about Sorkin’s por­tray­als of women.

“Aaron could have di­rected any­thing and chose as his first film to di­rect a movie about the il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer of a great fe­male pro­tag­o­nist,” she says. “In an in­dus­try that doesn’t al­ways seem to be in­ter­ested in women, that tells you a lot.” – LA Times/TNS

JES­SICA CHAS­TAIN and Idris Elba star in Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Molly’s Game.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.