[Review] The Great Game: Rise and Fall


Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) tackles one of the stories that rocked Hollywood in his first film: that of Molly Bloom, nicknamed the Queen of Poker, known for hosting the most popular underground parties the gratin of Los Angeles and New York, with astronomical stakes and bringing together A-List actors, businessmen, professional players and the Russian mafia. A story, told in an autobiographical book, Molly’s Game, too good not to adapt it. Was the game worth the candle?

Since the end of The Newsroom and the lackluster release of Steve Jobs ( our reviewer ), brilliantly written, Aaron Sorkin has been quiet. Perhaps it was to better come back and take the time to adapt this biography, Molly’s Game . The kind of amoral and glamorous history America is fond of, made up of greatness and decline.

Member of the American ski team and failed at the Winter Olympics following an injury, Molly Bloom will become the organizer of the most popular Texas Hold’Em poker evenings for the American happy few , entry code and account well stocked de rigueur. So much for the legend. What about The Great Game ?

Our heroine, or anti-heroine, some would say, tells us her story with flashbacks and disproportionate “pots” at a time when America, post-subprime crisis, is still looking for greedy to pin down. If the ascent is meteoric, the fall will be no less brutal and the redemption expected. All of this is recorded in his bestseller Molly Game’swhich sees on the green carpet the most popular Hollywood actors of the 2000s (Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), full-fledged businessmen, professional soccer players, directors and – unfortunately for her – a few pundits of the Russian mafia. In short, people whose excitement lies in part in the fact of playing and risking losing, but above all of winning huge sums of money in one night in a cozy room (cal) in a 5-star palace, with magnificent hostesses to serve.

Those who know Aaron Sorkin will not be surprised – Steve Jobs and The Newsroom are a textbook case in themselves – the film is very talkative. Talkative certainly, but well written, we are on familiar ground. From the outset, Aaron Sorkin gives us his great game. The film starts at full speed: the voice-over of Molly Bloom describes us through the menu, in an uninterrupted flow of words his beginnings, with numbers and then information on the basics of poker, with chiseled dialogue, flashback and background footage. A deluge like so many uppercuts that follow one another without really understanding where they come from. You have to hang on from the intro of the film on pain of being frankly dumped.

Cash machine
As usual, through his dialogues, Aaron Sorkin gives us to see the brilliant personality of his main character. Don’t be fooled by her manicured bimbo looks perched on 12 heels, Molly Bloom is a concentrate of gray matter, which owes its success only to herself. A (cash) machine that Sorkin tries somehow to humanize through his complicated relationship with his father, played by Kevin Costner, or that with his lawyer, an irreproachable Idris Elba, who will try to make him spit out the name of his wealthy ” clients ” to save him a trial and jail. Something that she will end up doing to recover her stake (but she will explain it to you better than me).

She is a different heroine from the Sorkinian heroes portrayed so far, certainly loyal to her principles and endowed with an extraordinary strength of character (which makes her admirable), but which one struggles to become attached to. Despite everything, this film at least has the merit of offering Jessica Chastain a role to suit her and confirming her, if necessary again, as a great actress. Since The Color of Feelings, Zero Dark Thirty , or A Most Violent Year , she only needed a powerful role to express all her talent. Molly Bloom, bright, determined and slightly creepy at times, is one of them.