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A Peek Behind a Poker Face

Irene Fueyo, Staff Writer

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I finally saw a good movie. One that had me glued to the edge of my seat, crying, and laughing all within the scope of three hours.

The movie I saw is Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut (He previously wrote screenplays for West Wing, A Few Good Men, and Newsroom). The main character is Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain). She is a poker entrepreneur. The movie is narrated by this character in a fast pace that matches the quick rhythm of the poker scenes pictured.  This style of storyline makes it feel like you are being told a fictional story, but although it has been “Hollywoodified” the story is real, based on an actual woman’s book. In that work, Bloom exposed some of the men who had attended the poker games she hosted, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and Tobey Maguire.

The movie begins with Molly as an Olympic hopeful that loses her career as a skier due to an injury and moves to Los Angeles, claiming she “wanted to be young for a while in warm weather.” She starts to work at a bar where she meets the man who first introduces her to the world of poker. Here, she meets another major star of the movie, Player X, who is portrayed by Michael Cera. Cera does an extraordinary job of creating the persona of a creepy, self-centered genius, who indulges in poker just to hurt others.

A high point in Sorkin’s movie is his portrayal of the relationship between Molly and her father (Kevin Costner). The movie depicts two father-daughter relationships, those of Molly’s lawyer and his daughter and of Molly and her own father. Father-daughter relationships are complicated and difficult. Most of the emotions are hidden beneath the surface. They grow burdensome as daughters realize their father’s imperfections and as fathers realize that their daughters are real humans, interested in money, romance, and fleeing-the-nest. Both of the fathers in the movie are highly expecting. Spending so much time prepping their daughters for life, they forget or perhaps decline to put in the immense effort required to show affection and love in a society, where being both a masculine man and an openly loving father is a very difficult combination. However, the love between daughter and father becomes obvious in this movie when times of trouble hit.

Another highlight is the character of Molly Bloom. She is resilient, using her femininity for power, and, although she does end up doing criminal actions, she is empathetic, caring, smart, and very principled. There is no romantic story and not once does Molly take an action to gain the affection of the men around her. Chastain’s portrayal of Molly is spectacular, diving into her own vulnerabilities to create a character who is both emotional and cut-throat.

Finally, as all good movies do, the beginning and the end interconnect, fitting themselves nicely into a package you can hold and a centralized a idea you can mull over. Time itself is warped in a way that gives not only suspense but insight at the end.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie.

Molly’s Game is rated R and is thus only suitable for young adults older than 17.

Photo credit: The Verge

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A Peek Behind a Poker Face