CINEMA AND OPINION

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

HAV­ING con­jured ver­bal sym­phonies from pol­i­tics (The West Wing), sports (Money­ball) and the in­ter­net (The So­cial Me­dia), Aaron Sorkin turns his at­ten­tion to poker, and the true tale of a woman mak­ing her way, and a fair bit of money, in the world of gam­bling.

You can see why poker should be at­trac­tive to Sorkin: the high stakes, the drama, the oo­dles of spe­cial­ist terms. It of­fers an ocean of images and ideas into which Sorkin can dive. While such to­tal im­mer­sion has worked so well in the past, Molly’s Game is dif­fer­ent – for good and oth­er­wise. Here, for the first time, Sorkin is di­rec­tor as well as writer, in charge of killing his own dar­lings. The ques­tion: does he do so? The an­swer: not nearly as much as he should.

When first we meet Molly (Jes­sica Chas­tain) she is not the glam­orous man­ager of the hottest poker game in town. She is a ski jumper, hop­ing to rep­re­sent her coun­try in the Olympics. Coached by her per­fec­tion­ist fa­ther (Kevin Cost­ner) she is also a driven daddy’s girl. Al­ready, we can see Sorkin lay­ing a trail of bread­crumbs to the kind of woman Molly would be­come: smart, fear­less, a risk taker, but a peo­ple pleaser too, es­pe­cially when it came to men.

Her sport­ing ca­reer cut short by in­jury, Bloom is des­tined to go to law school. First, how­ever, she goes to LA to earn some money and “be young for a while in warm weather”.

A wait­ress­ing job leads to PA work for a mi­nor Hol­ly­wood player who hap­pens to run a card game.

Bloom knows noth­ing about poker, Googling ev­ery term she over­hears, but she learns fast and she can see the po­ten­tial to earn money. Not from tak­ing a per­cent­age of the pot, which would be il­le­gal, but from the tips the play­ers hand over. Bloom’s game was fa­mous for bring­ing Hol­ly­wood and Wall Street to­gether, trust fund kids and self-made men, all of whom tipped very well, know­ing that it was Molly who granted or de­nied the cov­eted seats around the ta­ble.

How Bloom went from a young woman head­ing for law school, to jaded card game host, to be­ing the sub­ject of an FBI raid in the mid­dle of the night is cov­ered by Sorkin in great nar­ra­tive swoops. Back and forth he goes, from Bloom’s LA glory days to the point

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