Molly's Game is a 2017 American crime drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (in his directorial debut), based on the memoir 'Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker' by Molly Bloom.
It stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d'Arcy James, Chris O'Dowd, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Claire Rankin, Joe Keery, and Jeremy Strong.
The film tells the true story of Molly Bloom, a former olympic skiier, who, after a devasting accident, changes career and ultimately runs an underground poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, athletes and business tycoons. When the Russian mob takes an interest, Molly becomes the target of an FBI investigation.
Principal photography began in November 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The film premiered on 8th September 2017, at the Toronto International
Film Festival, and began a limited theatrical release in the United States
on 25th December 2017, before expanding wide on 5th January 2018. Molly's
Game received positive reviews, with particular praise for Sorkin's
screenplay, as well as Chastain and Elba's performances, with Chastain's
being called one of the best of her career by some critics. The film earned
Chastain a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Drama, while Sorkin
earned nominations for his screenplay at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes,
Writers Guild of America Awards and BAFTA Awards.
In November, 2014, Mark Gordon's The Mark Gordon Company bought the feature film adaptation rights to Molly Bloom's memoir, which Gordon produced. Aaron Sorkin was hired to adapt the memoir into a screenplay. Bloom had already approached Sorkin, as he was her "favorite writer". On 7th January 2016, it was announced that Sorkin would make his directorial debut on the film, for Sony Pictures Entertainment, while Amy Pascal also produced. On 18th February 2016, Sony exited the project; on 13th May, STX Entertainment came on board, and subsequently bought the film's US and Chinese distribution rights for $9 million.
In February 2016, Sorkin offered Jessica Chastain the lead role in the film, but the negotiations between them had then not yet begun. On 6th May 2016, Idris Elba joined the film to star alongside Chastain. Sorkin stated that "the casting of Jessica and Idris in the two lead roles is any filmmaker's dream come true; they're two of the greatest actors of their generation, paired for the first time, and their chemistry will be electric." On 7th September 2016, Michael Cera joined the cast as Player X, a celebrity poker player. On 17th October 2016, Kevin Costner joined as Molly Bloom's father, and on 21st October 2016, Brian d'Arcy James was added. On 9th November 2016, Chris O'Dowd, Jeremy Strong, Bill Camp, and Graham Greene joined the cast as well. Molly Bloom herself discussed Chastain's portrayal of her character with ET Canada stating, “We spent a little time together. She didn’t have much time for prep or research,” Bloom tells ET Canada’s Matte Babel. “I was blown away by her performance by how right it was and how deep and understood I felt by her performance.”
Principal photography began on 9th November 2016, in Toronto. Production concluded on 9th February 2017.
Molly's Game premiered on 8th September 2017, at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was also the closing film at AFI Fest on 16th November 2017, replacing All the Money in the World.
It began a limited release in North America on 25th December 2017, before expanding wide on 5th January 2018. The film was previously slated to be released on 22nd November 2017, before being moved to the Christmas date in October 2017.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 82% . The website's critical consensus reads, "Powered by an intriguing story and a pair of outstanding performances from Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, Molly's Game marks a solid debut for writer-director Aaron Sorkin." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Debruge of Variety praised Sorkin's script, saying, "... Molly’s Game delivers one of the screen's great female parts — a dense, dynamic, compulsively entertaining affair, whose central role makes stunning use of Chastain's stratospheric talent." Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film 9/10, writing, "Molly's Game is a perfect story for Sorkin. There's poker, the Russian mafia, the Italian mafia, celebrities, and sports. The only thing missing for Sorkin's wheelhouse is President Bartlet. "
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 3 out of 4 stars,
saying, "Molly's Game bristles with fun zingers, electric energy
and Sorkin's brand of verbal fireworks – all of which help enormously
when the movie falters in fleshing out its characters. Still, in his first
film with a female protagonist, the writer-director has hit on a timely
theme: the tribulations of being a woman in a man's world." Jessica
Chastain portrayal of Molly Bloom was praised by The Hollywood Reporter,
for "Chastain roars through the performance with a force and take-no-prisoners
attitude that keeps one rapt." The Hollywood Reporter also stated:
"Sorkin keeps things rolling relentlessly and gets fine results from
the actors down the line .... The film looks sharp and a trio of editors
keeps thing pacey." It concluded: "One strong woman and many
rich men make for a good show."
Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom
Samantha Isler as teenage Molly
Piper Howell as 7-year-old Molly
Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey, Molly's lawyer.
Kevin Costner as Larry Bloom, Molly's father and a clinical psychologist.
Michael Cera as Player X, a composite character of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, and other real-life celebrity poker players.
Brian d'Arcy James as Brad, a hedge fund manager.
Chris O'Dowd as Douglas Downey, the man who introduces Molly to the Russian mob and brings them to the table.
J. C. MacKenzie as Harrison Wellstone
Bill Camp as Harlan Eustice, a card sharp who gets in over his head.
Graham Greene as Judge Foxman
Jeremy Strong as Dean Keith, the real estate developer who brings Molly into the world of underground poker.
Matthew D. Matteo as Bobby
Joe Keery as Cole
Natalie Krill as Winston
Claire Rankin as Charlene Bloom, Molly’s mother and Larry’s wife.
Madison McKinley as Shelby
Angela Gots as B
Khalid Klein as Neal
Victor Serfaty as Diego
Jon Bass as Shelly Habib