Molly’s Game Splits Critics With Some Seeing It as a Flop

September 11th, 2017 | by Jason Reynolds

The long-awaited Molly’s Game has been shown to critics and movie insiders for the first time and, so far, the verdict is mixed.

Jessica Chastain Molly Bloom.

Jessica Chastain has divided opinions in her role as the Poker Princess, Molly Bloom. (Image: Images)

Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Molly Bloom’s self-titled book about Hollywood’s high stakes home games has split opinions.

This, however, could be a great thing for the poker community as, at the very least, it’s got people talking about the game.

Back when broke the news that Sorkin would be making his directorial debut with Molly’s Game back in January 2016, expectations were high. Having already won awards and critical acclaim as a writer and producer for movies such as The Social Network and Steve Jobs, Sorkin has shown he knows how to tell a personal story.

Hopes Were High for Molly’s Game

As Hollywood stars like Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner were drafted in, many commentators both inside and outside of the poker industry believed it could be a hit. The first glimpse the world got to see of Molly’s Game came on August 15 via a YouTube trailer.

In typically dramatic style, the trailer (see below) picked out the juiciest bits of the movie and introduced us to the all-star cast Sorkin had wrangled together. Beyond the preview, the critics have praised Sorkin not only for portraying Bloom as a power figure, but the way he’s told the story of her rise to becoming the Poker Princess.

For’s Peter Debruge, the movie is a “dense, dynamic, compulsively entertaining affair” that uses fast-paced dialogue and flashbacks to tell the story and then reposition it multiple times. Similarly for’s Alissa Wilkinson, the constant movement back-and-forth between the past and present creates a sense of uncertainty that only comes together in the final throes of the movie.

The Style Suits Some But Not Others

For both critics, the style and structure of the movie wouldn’t have worked if the subject wasn’t poker. By taking time to understand the nuances of poker, the myriad of information at play in a hand and the fact something can only be certain at the end of a hand, the reviewers were impressed by Sorkin’s effort.

However, on the other side of the critical divide, The Guardian newspaper’s Benjamin Lee gave it two stars out of five and, in parts, a scathing review. Calling Molly’s Game “bloated” at 140 minutes in length and the performance by Chastain stilted, Lee believes the movie was a flop on a multitude of levels.

As ever, the poker community will have its say when Sorkin’s offering is released in the US on November 22, the UK on December 26 and the rest of Europe in 2018. For now, regardless of the contrasting reviews, poker is at least in the spotlight for something other than political or legal issues.


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