Latest posts by Oliver Ledingham-Smith (see all)
- Review: Logan – Hugh Jackman’s Swan Song Is His Best Iteration Of The Character - March 20, 2019
- ‘Hidden Figures’ tells a remarkably unheard of true story of galactic proportions - February 7, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War Is A Success That’s Ten Years In The Making - December 10, 2018
It’s probably a fair assertion to state that many people will go through life dreaming of living an outrageous, brilliant, wild, ‘out-of-this-world’ kind of lifestyle, if only for a moment. They will get swept along by the chutzpah of hedonism, the sensual allure of that which they cannot attain because they were born in the wrong time, or into the wrong class, and by the aphrodisiac complexities that come with living the high life. In essence, people often want what they cannot have, be it wealth, culture, fame, or power. They perceive what others have, and instantaneously forget what they themselves have, instead craving the unattainable. A great author once wrote in his most famous and well-read novel ‘I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.’ This is a very fitting quote to what I am trying to say: that an unattainable life – brought about by a vast and complex array of different varieties and circumstances that all coalesce to create said unattainable life – isn’t always a perfect one; eventually everything will come crashing down around you in an epic fall, brought about by one’s own hubris and questionable morality, egged on by the very desire to keep going, because even when you have it all, you will undoubtedly succumb to greed and demand more.
Why do I spend over two hundred words on what is effectively nothing more and nothing less than a precursor for my first reviewed film of 2018, I hear you ask? Well, other than having a bit of a flair for the dramatic, I wanted to try and paint a picture of Molly Bloom’s (Jessica Chastain) tumultuous life, from living on a friend’s couch in LA and having to work two part-time jobs in order to pay the rent, to rising to become the woman who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game. Oh, and she was also an Olympic-class skier before all of that, before tragedy struck, which forced her on to the path that we have the fortune to witness, played out through the medium of flashbacks that is interspersed with ‘real time’, where she argues with her lawyer, Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba). These are indubitably some of the best scenes of the entire movie, which is saying something, as the scenes that make up the former half of the story are just as enthralling and enticing in their own unique way. And everything culminates together to deliver a story that is so wild and rocky with its rollercoaster-esque ups and downs that it’s a wonder that Bloom was able to keep her head above the metaphorical waves at all.
Molly’s Game launches into the action straight from the very first frame of the film, with Chastain’s voiceover delivering the exposition in such a way that it actually adds value to the scene, instead of it being distracting and coming off as cheap. Director-writer Aaron Sorkin knew exactly what he was doing here, as Chastain speaks faster and faster, taking you to the edge of your seat. You know what’s going to happen, yet you’re unable to look away, so engrossed by what’s happening before your very eyes. Although I have a slight confession: I looked through the gaps between my fingers, as I thought something bad was going to happen to her back, and I’m not a fan of backs breaking, no thank you. This then leads to Molly struggling, as she has cut all ties with her family, having never got on with her father, Larry Bloom (Kevin Costner), believing that he always pushed her too far, and that’s why she is the way she is. Molly is truly a humble, courageous person, refusing to implicate anyone else who was indicted, letting the chips all fall at her own feet, as she only has herself to blame, so only wants herself to suffer the consequences of her actions. There is no other way to say it: she is utterly selfless.
Chastain and Elba are electric in their scenes together, pulling off performances that are so emotionally wrought with power. They are equally matched, in both intellect and stubbornness, each believing that they are right and that the other is wrong, nothing more than a fool. And maybe Molly is a fool, but if she’s going to go down, the least she can hold on to is her name and her integrity; they can take everything else, but she’s going to refuse to give up those two things. This Oscar contender of a film is perhaps not what you would expect from the Awards circuit: it is different, but in a dazzlingly extraordinary and wonderfully refreshing and beautiful way, so much so that during and after watching you wish it had gained more traction. Sure, it’s a film about gambling – more specifically, poker – and that may not be for everyone, but not every film has to be. The only reason I decided to go and see this one is because there ended up being so much marketing around it that I sat up and took notice, and I sure as hell wasn’t disappointed that I did. Molly’s Game is a true story, and one that will both shock and excite you in equal measure, but will also leave you breathless and wanting more.
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