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Jessica Chastain stars in Molly’s Game.

Michael Gibson/Courtesy of STXfilms

3 out of 4 stars

Molly’s Game
Written by
Aaron Sorkin
Directed by
Aaron Sorkin
Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba

From minute one you can tell that Molly's Game is an Aaron Sorkin script. The dialogue is paced at about the intensity of a jackhammer and every other sentence uttered ends on a twist of the one that came before it.

What is more difficult to discern is that this is also an Aaron Sorkin film, as in he directed the movie, his first such attempt. As far as aesthetic choices go, Sorkin doesn't get too fancy, using quick cuts and solid set design to establish the fast-paced, luxurious and high-stakes world of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), the so-called "Princess of Poker." He stumbles slightly when it comes to pacing – clocking in at 140 minutes, there is too much dead weight to this particular game – and there's an extremely queasy undertone of Sorkin-penned daddy issues that lace Molly's motivations.

Otherwise, it's a solid debut, with standout performances from Chastain (naturally), Idris Elba as her lawyer (of course) and Kevin Costner (okay then!) as her emotionally abusive father.

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Molly's Game opens Dec. 25.

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