TIFF 2017: Molly’s Game

FASHION Reviews Everything TIFF

Toronto International Film Festival is mostly about cinema (obviously). But TIFF isn’t only about films. There are parties to attend, stars to spot on the street, and brand activations everywhere. It’s high time for all aspects of TIFF to get the same critical attention as the films.

Welcome to FASHION Reviews Everything TIFF-related. While this might not be an entirely comprehensive appraisal—it’s as impossible to be at every party as it is to see every film— if we attend anything linked to the Toronto International Film Festival in any way, we’ll review it here.

Near the end of The American President, which was written by Aaron Sorkin, President Andrew Shepherd gives one of those perfect, off-the-cuff monologues that no real person would ever be able to say, but that Sorkin writes beautifully (a more viral example would be that scene in the first episode of The Newsroom). Here, the President is speechifying about America, but he could talking about a Sorkin script. “America [or Sorkin] isn’t easy,” he says. “America is advanced citizenship [or dialogue]. You got to want it bad, because it’s going to put up a fight.”

That’s one thing about Molly’s Game, written—and for the first time—directed by Sorkin: it is very Sorkin-y. Every protagonist is a genius, almost autistic in their facility with trivia and statistics. And, like all of his scripts, it can put up a fight against even the best actors.

Mostly, Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba perform the verbal gymnastics serviceably, though some scenes end up sounding hollow and unnatural. Whether that’s the fault of the actors though is hard to say. Still, if you like Sorkin’s rhythm (not to mention self-righteousness), you’ll like Molly’s Game.

It’s about Molly Bloom, a former championship skier, who builds a kind of underground poker empire, before running afoul of the Russian mob and the US government. The film toggles back and forth between her rise and fall, and her planning her defence with an equal verbose attorney.

Almost as recognizably Sorkin as the banter is in all his works, is the writer’s troubled relationship with women characters. They, like his men, are whip-smart and preternaturally articulate. But, often, they’re main job is to support the great men they work with or love (See: Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs, Annette Benning in The American President, Demi Moore in A Few Good Men, and on and on). Also, when he needs an audience surrogate to ask what’s going on, more than likely Sorkin will use one of his female characters. (In The West Wing this job usually fell to Donna—whom we love dearly).

In Molly’s Game, he comes as close as he ever has to breaking that habit. At the root of Molly’s character is an independence and grit that she hides in order to appear as the perfect woman to the men who spend all their money at her poker games. She is very nearly the inverse of most other Sorkin Women. Yes, she relies on men to help explain her situation to her self, but she the film is still very much hers. And unlike most other Sorkin Women, Molly doesn’t seem scattered or overwhelmed once. Still, it’s sad when Elba still gets the most righteously impressive monologues.

But, it’s Sorkin being Sorkin. And his progression, while slow, is still worth celebrating. One day, someone will rank all of his works—actually, that will likely happen as soon as this is released wide—and while Molly’s Game won’t be at the top of that list (that’s probably a spot reserved for The West Wing and A Few Good Men), it won’t be at the bottom either. But, on a ranking of Sorkin Women, Molly might just be on top (after C.J., of course).

TL;DR

-It’s a movie by Aaron Sorkin, so..

-But, stronger woman than usual.

-One monologue was so Sorkin-y the audience clapped, as if it were live!

-But that was a monologue delivered by a dude.

Rating:

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