(15, 140 mins)

Cynon Valley - - SCREENSHOTS -

OS­CAR-WIN­NING screen­writer Aaron Sorkin makes his di­rec­to­rial de­but with a slick drama­ti­sa­tion of the rise and fall of Molly Bloom, who dealt her­self a win­ning hand in 2009 as host­ess of Hol­ly­wood’s most exclusive poker game with a $50,000 stake to sit at a ta­ble fre­quented by film stars, di­rec­tors and busi­ness ti­tans.

The first-time film-maker deals a full house of snappy di­a­logue to his cast, over­play­ing his hand on oc­ca­sion so Jes­sica Chas­tain is forced to de­liver screeds in voiceover as the ti­tle char­ac­ter.

Some one-lin­ers zing, oth­ers are clum­sily forced (“I felt I was in a hole, so deep, I could go frack­ing”) but his cast are com­mit­ted, in­clud­ing one showy scene for co-star Idris Elba that makes amends for a lack of fire­works dur­ing a slug­gish first hour.

Sorkin’s words speak louder than his choices be­hind the cam­era and his film is over­long.

How­ever, like some of the peo­ple around Molly’s ta­ble, he bluffs his way to­wards a win­ning po­si­tion.

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