It’s always a treat when Aaron Sorkin brings a new script to our screens, large or small, and his output (aside from West Wing) has been quite thinly spread over recent years. For me, the high point was The Social Network, but Steve Jobs was pretty damn fine too.
And it’s an unusual move for writers to become directors (albeit Martin McDonagh has done so to remarkable effect). This is Sorkin’s directorial bow and he makes a pretty decent fist of it.
It’s a good, but not great, film that moves along at typical, for Sorkin, high pace, almost matching that of Tom Lehrer’s, The Elements. And that is both its strength and its weakness. It’s kind of exhausting keeping up with 140 minutes of non stop verbal action.
The story concerns the real life of Molly Bloom; Olympic skier turned (illegal) poker madame. My first gripe is the huge dependence on narration from the central character (played superbly by Jessica Chastain). It’s a tiresome devise that too often intrudes. It doesn’t kill the movie but, for me, it hampers it.
The second is that it’s just too one-paced. It lacks light and shade.
But it’s also absorbing, interesting and full of surprises.
Chastain puts in an an Oscar nominatable performance (but it’s in no way winnable, given what Frances McDormand has put down in Three Billboards as a marker).
Idris Elba had the ladies in my company quite hot and bothered and puts in a decent shift as Chastain’s legal representative. He’s needed because her early cleaner than clean rules of engagement gradually become blurred and loose.
It’s a great yarn and it holds the audience throughout. But will I remember it a year from now? Not particularly.