Molly’s Game

Jessica Chastain plays at high stakes in <i>Molly’s Game</i>.

Jessica Chastain plays at high stakes in Molly’s Game.

Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial debut with  Molly’s Game, a patchy biopic starring Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom, a former competitive skier who ran a high-stakes poker game targeted by the FBI.  When a wipeout ended her skiing career, the extremely driven Molly moved to Southern California, eventually seizing an opportunity to host an exclusive poker game sought after by A-list celebrities and other members of the wealthy elite (attendees included Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire, but real names are never used here).  This first half of Molly’s Game is sharp-witted fun, as Molly, using little more than guile and guts, establishes an empire in the dark heart of masculine insecurity.  But the film grows increasingly turgid and tiresome in the second half, culminating in a flatulently self-infatuated (i.e., Sorkin-esque) sequence where Molly’s estranged father (a literal Freudian!) suddenly materializes in Central Park for some swift psychoanalysis.