Molly's Game ★★★½

Recommended to me by Ginnyweasely for the TFD Weekly Roulette

Many iconic filmmakers have their trademarks. Tarantino has his gorey dialogue driven genre pieces, Wes Anderson has his symmetrical story book quirkfests, and Kaufmann has his melancholic acutely self aware dramadies with a cerebral edge. What I'm getting at here is that these filmmakers have their bag of tricks and sometimes they can be transformed in a way familiar becomes dazzlingly new, other times it feels stale and outplayed. Aaron Sorkin is one of these filmmakers.

See, Aaron Sorkin is an incredibly entertaining writer, but as I've seen his films I can't help but feel like they all utilize the same tactics and have the obligatory huge monologue with lot's of cursing and witty commentary or witty one liners from our main character to show how clever they are. My point being the Sorkin protagonist often times comes across like they're on top and their wits are unmatched and it almost becomes a pseudo-intellectual war with some of the dialogue pieces. That being said under the right director a Sorkin script can be more than that. It can feel not as much like Sorkin is talking to me in every scene but rather an immersive experience. I feel as though Sorkin directing Molly's Game is it's biggest downfall. Not to say it falls into all familiar trappings, however despite all my entertainment I could feel him talking to me and telling me his views. It's good for a director to have identity when making a film but when the film becomes the director in spots it becomes an issue.

The biggest compliment I can give Molly's Game is that it is entertaining. Sorkin doesn't helm the film in the most interesting way but there are some dynamic sequences and intriguing plot thread to make the 2 hours and 20 minutes fly by. I'd almost call it a popcorn movie and I don't mean that dismissively. Molly's Game sets out to tell an interesting story and it conveys that story. Is it overridden with too much voice over and melodrama? Sure , but it succeeds at doing that and I have to give credit where credit is due. The film kept me hooked. I wanted to know what happened to Molly and I felt emotionally invested in spite of the voice over undercutting a lot of it (but hey what can you do Sorkin loves his inner monologues). A standout scene in particular, the park bench scene, feels contrived but even in spite of that I felt the emotion of it. A lot of Molly's Game feels like a game of cards in that way (fitting I know). Sorkin is a skilled player knowing every card to pull. The problem is we are now realizing what cards he's going to pull and maybe he wins the game this time, but next time won't be so easy. It's time to change up your game Sorkin.