Wednesday, December 20, 2017

When The Dealing's Done

I hate gambling. Can't stand it. Don't get the slightest bit of enjoyment from purposefully stressing out about money, of all things. I've been stressing out about money my entire life - if I want to waste my money I'm going to waste it on things that matter, like movie tickets and copious jars of Nutella. Point being, movies about gambling are usually incomprehensible science-fiction to me - the players on-screen might as well be speaking in Klingon for all I understand of their motivations. 

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.

Of course Molly's got to fall off her mountain, but even with Idris Elba there wearing well-tailored suits to keep the lawyer bits and banter moving I felt like all of these scenes strained to sustain my interest - listening to one person knock Sorkin dialogue out of the park is one thing, but I start to get a headache when everybody's monologuing at one another. And Molly becomes irritatingly passive in the last act - let's watch all the men come in and clean up her mess, I guess?

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Co-sign everything you said about gambling 100%.

Which is why I don't get why I should care about this woman's story or this movie. Can't run an illegal poker ring? Go find another job. This one really isn't that important.