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While there isn’t a whole lot of walking in writer Aaron Sorkin’s feature directorial debut, Molly’s Game, there’s certainly a lot of talking. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s the story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain, a perfect fit for Sorkin’s staccato rhythms), a once promising Olympic mogul skier and student of law who ended up becoming the mastermind between underground poker games in Los Angeles and New York that attracted high profile, A-list clientele. When the FBI busts her (two years after her last game) and she learns of a connection to the Russian mob that she plays ignorant about, it’s up to her lawyer (Idris Elba) to figure out where the truth lies.

Molly’s Game is pure, unfiltered Sorkin, and while Bloom’s story and the performances are captivating, the writer-director isn’t breaking any new ground. The style is rudimentary, the themes have all been covered better in previous Sorkin efforts, and without anyone to keep his baser indulgences in check, he’s allowed to run rampant. At 140 minutes. It’s exhausting and almost a chore to get through, especially when the film doesn’t allow for a single quiet moment of reflection. Even if two characters aren’t speaking in a scene, Chastain’s antihero is narrating the film in Sorkin’s typical mile-a-minute fashion. It’s like watching an eight seasons of a television series sped up into one film.

 

Is Molly’s Game essential viewing?

Maybe for the performances, but Sorkin still has a ways to go when it comes to tempering his filmmaking voice.