Anyone who is familiar with the terms the flop, the river, the turn, and sit-and-go has either experienced a misspent youth or just been to see Molly’s Game, a film about real life Molly Bloom (played by Jessica Chastain) that is also about high stakes poker games.
Director and writer Aaron Sorkin sets the scene for the events of the movie by showing a young Molly Bloom training for and competing in Olympic level ski competitions. She then becomes a personal assistant to Dean, an unsuccessful real estate agent.
You might be wondering where poker comes into the equation.
Dean runs a high stakes poker game at a local bar. The players include Hollywood stars, IT tycoons and other men who sweat money through their pores. They are super successful and super wealthy.
Dean directs Molly to supervise the game and keep tabs on the money won and lost. Molly becomes so good at the job that Dean threatens to fire her.
She takes the initiative and creates her own game, stealing away Dean’s players, including Player X, who is at the centre of the poker group and brings the other players with him to Molly’s game.
There’s nothing illegal about the game. Not initially, anyway.
Apart from the poker hands, there are many other hands at play. Molly is estranged from her father, who was also her skiing coach. The high flyers at the gaming table are ruthless and manipulative.
Molly uses her wits and intelligence to navigate her way through the byways of the male dominated world in which she exists. From her father, Larry, to Dean, to Player X, Molly realises that if she doesn’t stand firm, the men in her life will overwhelm her.
When the FBI finally arrests her, Molly refuses to reveal the names of the men at the poker table because it would ruin their lives, even though they have done nothing to assist her at that difficult time.
For Molly, it’s all about integrity. She is strong. Her principles are laid out on the table in the encounters between herself and lawyer, Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who decides to represent her.
Aaron Sorkin, a master scriptwriter, who adapted Molly’s book (also titled Molly’s Game) for the screen and directed the film, relies on voice-over narration throughout the movie.
In most cases, film narration indicates the filmmaker isn’t doing the job properly. In Molly’s Game, the narration works well in conjunction with film language to propel us through the narrative. It’s as if Molly is reading from her book that, in turn, drives the film we are witnessing on the screen.
In poker parlance, Molly’s Game is a royal flush.