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Rated 3.07 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
All About Poker
by James Colt Harrison

Mollyís Game is all about poker. Although itís captivating from start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what everyone was   talking about. I didnít understand a word. Not one word, Aaron Sorkin. I donít play poker. I have no sense of finance. I canít even play Monopoly. When I do, I always lose and end up owing everybody $50 million. I donít know the difference between a four-flusher and a toilet flusher. Getting into a game of poker with high rollers would fleece me like a sheared lamb. And thatís what happens to most of the players in Mollyís game of poker.

Molly Bloom, a real person, used to be a champion skier, but she crashed at the Olympics and that ruined her sports game. So she came up with a better game, one that involved setting up fancy-schmancy hotel games for rich men. After the Olympic Games, she had no profession to earn her a living. She shucked law school as not being exciting enough for a young, smart, ambitious lady. She found something better that paid a lot of money. Gambling.

After her skiing accident, Molly went to work for a sleazeball poker artist who set up games for celebrities, sports figures, and CEOís of all the companies which legitimately take all your money. Being a sharp woman, she saw she could make money doing the same thing, only in a more classy way.

Jessica Chastain as Molly talks a mile a minute in voice-overs that explain everything you donít know and never will. But she does it so beautifully. Chastain is such a fine actress that we believe everything she says because sheís that good. She could explain quantum physics and you would believe her, even if your eyes are rolling in the back of your noggin. Being a knock-out beauty helps. But itís her mind that intrigues you. She can certainly convey her smarts about gambling, and finance, and dealing with some very tough men, some of whom turn out to be Russian Mafia goons.

We wonder what propels Molly. Itís probably the terrible relationship she had with her father, played by Kevin Costner as a world-class jerk. Growing up, Molly was prodded to always do better, ski better, learn better. That would put anybodyís head into a corkscrew.

Anyway, Molly takes it upon herself to set up games for men who like to throw away their money, such as Michael Cera, who plays a Hollywood movie star (rumor has it that it is based on Toby McGuire, but no proof is presented). Several of her clients make great impressions as characters, with actor Bill Camp as Harlan, Justin Kirk as a rock star, Jon Bass as billionaire Shelly Habib and Broadway star Brian DíArcy James stealing the few scenes heís in and all the money on the table by playing a dumb rube.

Molly gets into trouble with the Feds, and they try their best to indict her and put her away because of her alleged ties to the Russian goons and other back-street shady characters. Molly says she is innocent of any wrong doing. Proving her case will be difficult, so she hires hotshot attorney Charlie Jaffrey, played with authenticity by that terrific actor Idris Elba. The sparring between Molly and Charlie is topnotch acting by both stars. Molly is tough, and Charlie matches her toughness. She digs in her heels and he tries to knock her off her pedestal. Both actors give wonderful performances and make us believe both their points of view about guilty or not guilty pleas to the government.

Sorkin has written a career-best part for Costner. His reconciliation scene with Chastainís character is a doozy. Itís some of the best acting Costner has done in years. I even had to change my previous assessment that he canít act his way out of a paper bag.

Mollyís Game is one of the yearís finest films among many great films. Hereís hoping the Academy awards this picture with well-deserved Oscarģ nominations.

(Released by STX Entertainment and rated ďRĒ for language, drug content and some violence.)

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