Thankfully Molly's Game isn't really a gambling movie. Molly (Jessica Chastain, rat-a-tat-tatting herself toothless) has a gambler's heart, I suppose, but she's gets her highs off Doing Things Well, Better Than Anybody Else, which is a tightrope I can feel my feet onto. She gets into the poker world by random luck (although "luck" is clearly a spotty word in these circumstances) and then through sheer force of feminine ingenuity sticks one dangerously pointy heel on top of the mountain, staking her claim.
And it is decidedly feminine, that ingenuity -- writer-director Aaron Sorkin loads the first half of the film with the engrossing spectacle of seeing Molly monetize (or in a way weaponize) the big dopey Male Id - women have been dealing with men's needy pamper-me bullshit for millennia but nobody turned low-cut dresses and dude-bro fist-bump champagne room regalia into a cash-printing mega-machine quite like Molly Bloom did. And that's a wonder to watch in their hands. It has the same getting-stuff-done titillation factor as a movie about sausage-making - the joy is in the process of putting it together.
Still this Game sings for long stretches. Chastain radiates nuclear level star-power as she struts around the card tables - how any of these guys kept their focus on their hands I'll never understand. I guess that's her sleight, for the sharks and us viewers - stare at me, she says, and everybody wins.