Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Molly's Game [2017]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB () (3 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review

Molly's Game [2017] (directed and screen play by Aaron Sorkin based on the memoir [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Molly Bloom [wikip] [GR] [IMDb]) spins a certainly gripping if also somewhat "spoiled sport" sort of a tale of Molly Bloom [wikip] (played in the film by Jessica Chastain), a young adult, who grew up in Loveland, CO (on the Continental Divide, about 1 hour West of Denver), the daughter of a Colorado based psychologist (played in the film by Kevin Kostner) hence ever upper middle class, and whose life's direction took a radical turn as a result of a truly freak accident at the U.S. (freestyle) ski team trials for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games.  If not for a random pine branch shaving unsnapping the buckling of one of her boots to her skis on her second of three mogul runs, she probably would have made the Team, perhaps even won a Medal at the Games and would have then followed a quite different path than the one that she ended up taking.

Instead, in the aftermath of the (life's fortunes-changing) Accident, she "took a year off" between college (Colorado State) and law school (undetermined, but she had an LSAT score that could have gotten her into Harvard ...) and moved down to Los Angeles where she crashed (found a place) with some friends.

Young and quite attractive (in a town full of young and above-the-par attractive people) and certainly a product of her skiing days, _never a couch potato_, she scored a job as a cocktail waitress at a quite frequented club on the Sunset Strip.  There she got noticed by a patron of said club _for her smarts_ who hired her, nominally, to work as his administrative assistant at his quite random (front?) business by day, but more importantly as his assistant and de-facto book-keeper (she knew how to write and maintain a spread sheet ;-) at a weekly celebrity high-stakes poker game that he ran in the back of a somewhat seedier club but "down the street" from the one where she worked as a cocttail waitress.

Talkative, attractive and again _smart_, she proved a natural.  And when a couple of years later, her boss tried to cut her out of his business, she had already "learned the game," and made enough friends to WAVE HIM GOODBYE as she STEPPED-UP THE GAME moving it TO A SUITE IN A BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL, serving better food with better music, and appropriately enticing (but again _never stupid_ ... why waste your position for a one night stand, or worse, prostituting yourself when you can make easily as much, night after night, simply on tips for your smile/encouragement) serving help (from among her friends at the club where she had worked) and HONESTLY, MADE THIS GAME WORK for a LONG, LONG TIME.

Well, Vice (a nicer way to say Evil...) has a way of eventually catching-up to anyone, no matter how smart one is.  And so she eventually had to leave L.A. because of _one mistake_, but soon re-established herself in New York where for a while she ran an even BIGGER / BETTER / MORE EXCLUSIVE POKER GAME (now complete with smiling but as ever unreachable Playboy Models as her serving help) THAN IN L.A.

To borrow some, (freestyle) skiing terminology, she had "a good run."  Eventually, however, one could say _inevitably_ "the Game" came to attract, well ... the kind of folks, that "a game" like this, again, inevitably attracts.  Still, even if Molly had spent a good part of her twenties "dancing with" / "playing tag" with the Devil, she wasn't necessarily that.  Instead, she was just very, very smart, quite ambitious, and as a former freestyle (moguls) skier TRAINED TO TAKE (QUICK / CALCULATED) RISKS.

Eventually the Feds came crashing in (and honestly, she was so lucky ...).  She did manage to get a good Manhattan-based lawyer (played excellently by Idris Elba) to hack her out of her legal troubles and lived to write a book (and have a movie made) about ... her "please don't do this" life.

Still, the story is gripping and relateable to both the young and no longer so young alike (because _all_ of us were "young" at some point as well).  And as a cautionary tale it is not a bad one.

Here was a young person who had a very good life and came _really close_ to really messing it up (and even close to ending up dead ...).  The temptation of glamour, "outsmarting the world" entices / challenges us all ...

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