Molly's Game

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Word-pusher Aaron Sorkin makes his debut as a director, and whaddya know, he directs a lot like he writes: fast and smooth, bordering on slick. But just bordering, because love demands at least a soupçon of sincerity, and he’s found someone to love in Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain). She’s a smart girl who’s even tougher than she is smart, who weathers illness, injury, and something that looks a little like injustice in her journey from top-tier skier to poker hostess par excellence to penniless supplicant in the office of a grudgingly sympathetic lawyer (Idris Elba). (He’s a strict and attentive dad — almost as strict and attentive as Molly’s was — and he’s hesitant to dismiss his daughter’s admiration of a woman who’s not just driven, but also decent.) It’s a showcase role for Chastain — everyone else is just there to influence her environment and then listen to her respond — and she handles her card-happy charges as adroitly as she handles Sorkin’s reams of talk. (She even makes the voice-overs feel necessary and worthwhile.) The only thing she can’t quite manage is seeming lost, desperate, and vulnerable, which is a bit of a problem here. With Kevin Costner. (2017) — Matthew Lickona

Rated R | 2 hours, 20 minutes
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