Blu-ray: Molly’s Game

STUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Aaron Sorkin | CAST: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Dera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Down, Bill Camp
RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $17.96, Blu-ray $19.96
BONUSES: featurette
SPECS: R | 140 min. | Drama | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

An impressive directorial debut from award-winning TV and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, TV’s The West Wing) Molly’s Game tells of the true escapades of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane), a dealer who ran exclusive poker games for some of Los Angeles’ biggest high rollers.

Quickly paced, technically solid and, as expected, punchily written, the film follows Bloom’s rise from running games and pairing players with Hollywood types for a seedy boss (Jeremy Strong, The Big Short) to being the leading doyenne of L.A.’s big stakes dusk-to-dawn card marathons.

As the story unfolds, so does Bloom’s past in a steady stream of flashbacks exploring the uncomfortable relationship with her psychologist father (Kevin Costner, Draft Day) and injury-shortened career as a champion downhill skier.

In between conversations with her understanding attorney Idris Elba (The Dark Tower), we also meet the colorful regular participants in Bloom’s games (including Michael Cera as an unsavory character nicknamed “Player X” and based on Tobey Maguire) and, later on, the story heads to New York where Bloom gets involved with Russian mobsters.

At the center of the proceedings is the lovely and talented Chastain, a force of nature who’s  tough-talking and no-nonsense most of the time but still draws empathy because of her unsteady family life. And Elba’s smooth presence as a straight arrow lawyer adds a much-needed calming effect to the film’s rapid-fire storytelling.

Sorkin does a lot of shuffling here, and rarely misdeals. As far as gambling movies, this is a solid entry in the category, with lots of fast-talking poker sequences and even diagrams to illustrate different strategies. True poker fans should genuinely appreciate that Sorkin doesn’t talk down to the gambling-savvy audience.

In theaters, Molly’s Game cashed in about $30 million, decent but not a jackpot. More than likely the film will be a bigger deal on the ancillary market, much like its poker-themed precursor Rounders.

Buy or Rent Molly’s Game

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.