Theatre & Reviews

Molly’s Game reviewed by Peter Feldman

Jessica Chastain is the real deal in “Molly’s Game”

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Justin Kirk

Director: Aaron Sorkin

It chronicles the life of Molly Bloom, a complex and razor-sharp woman, who organised underground big-stake poker games in LA for business executives and the Hollywood elite. What Molly (brilliantly portrayed by a sexy Jessica Chastain)  did not know was that organised crime got a foot in the door – and her life was dramatically changed when the FBI stepped in and dragged her to court.

She hired a top-notch lawyer, the ethically-torn Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), to defend her and the court-case, plus details of her fascinating lifestyle make compelling viewing.

What is even more compelling is the fact that the film is directed by the renowned Aaron Sorkin, whose verbal cadences have been recognised in countless movies and TV projects – but this is the first time he has written and directed a movie himself.

Molly Bloom was an Olympic skier whose career was cut short by an injury. She then worked for a shady businessman (Jeremy Strong) who organised underground high stakes poker games. She soon took over and upgraded the entire operation and increased its worth.

Seductively dressed to intimidate the clients, this gambling queen ruled her kingdom with an iron glove.

The movie, adapted from Molly Bloom’s book and memoirs, is executed on three different time-lines and crackles with intensity. Sorkin manages to mine the sexiest, most cinematic and most enigmatic moments from this real-life story. Jessica Chastain’s Molly narrates it in a typically witty and dry, Sorkin-esque prologue. The celebrated actress has a chameleon-like ability to adapt to situations and rationalise her worst behaviour.

Kevin Costner plays Molly’s military-intense, dominating father with whom she loses touch but reconnects towards the end, and Idris Elba, as her lawyer, again turns in a polished performance.

Michael Cera plays one of the elite gamblers, a multi-millionaire with a sarcastic and mean attitude.

Personally, I know little about cards and don’t understand some of the intricacies of the game – but this need not be a downer because the quality of the script and Jessica Chastain’s controlled performance make “Molly’s Game” a worthwhile cinematic experience.


About the author

Peter Feldman

Peter has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995.
He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase "Local is Lekker" which he used in his columns in The Star Tonight and broadcast in the 70s on David Gresham's popular afternoon show on Springbok Radio.

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