Saturday, December 30, 2017

Molly's Game (2017)

Molly Bloom could have been a lot of things.  She could have been an Olympic contender, but an accident during trials prevented that.  She could have been a lawyer, but a year off school led to assisting with high-stakes poker.  Had it not been for an arrest, she might still be the best poker host that no one had ever heard of.  Alas, it apparently wasn’t meant to be.

Molly’s Game, as you might expect, is about poker games run by Molly Bloom.  When she takes a year off from law school, she lands a job that turns into assisting her boss with his games.  She picks it up well enough that when her boss tries to withhold her paycheck from the day job, she splits.  She takes his clients with her, allowing her to set up her own games.

You may be wondering if this is legal.  Molly asks the same question of a lawyer.  As long as she doesn’t take a cut of the pot, it’s just this side of legal.  Instead, she’s to rely on tips to build her bank account.  She even declares all of her income to the IRS.  She has a few setbacks, but is able to hold her own…for a while.

One of Molly’s dealers convinces her to start taking a rake.  It isn’t long before drugs and alcohol make their way into her life.  She even attracts the attention of the Russian mob.  (She denies knowingly being involved with them, although she does receive a visit from a rather large man who beats and robs her.)

There are several things that I hate seeing in a movie.  One is where the movie is told as a flashback.  Here, the movie starts with Molly’s arrest and subsequent search for a lawyer.  We have the story leading up to the arrest interspersed with her trying to defend herself and get money back that was seized by the government.

Another thing I’d consider cliché is the downward spiral.  It’s not as pronounced here as I’ve seen in other movies, but Molly Bloom is an ambitious woman.  She makes some bold decisions that cause her to make some bad decisions.  Those that have power not only want to hold on to it, but often want more.  Had she not started taking the rake, which is forbidden by law, she would probably have fewer problems.  Then again, we wouldn’t have a movie.  (I’m sure for every person like Molly, there are many others content to stay in the shadows.)

The whole aspect of changing names is to be expected.  Even with a story based on truth, I expect a certain amount of fictionalization.  Michael Cera plays Player X, who is supposed to be a composite of several other actors.   Naming a name like that could be problematic from a legal standpoint.  The movie also shows Molly Bloom refusing to do so for moral reasons, as all she has left is her integrity.

This is one of those movies I probably would have waited for on DVD or streaming had I not had MoviePass.  The movie wasn’t particularly exciting.  If you’re looking for an exciting gambling-related movie, there are others out there to be had.  The movie comes across more as a 140-minute cautionary tale.  Then again, there weren’t too many surprises.  I’d say this is a movie where you could easily judge your interest by the coming attractions.

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