Listen: Molly’s Game reviewed by Laura Bennett.
Can you run an illegal gambling ring with integrity? Reading the synopsis for Molly’s Game, you’d be understandably misled into thinking it’s a dark salacious tale about poker and the ‘glossy’ yet flawed world of high-stakes gamblers. That’s there, but it’s not the main point.
Before Molly Bloom was arrested in 2013 for running the world’s largest illegal sports betting operation, she was an elite skier dreaming of the Olympics. Training for it all through her youth only to have a freak accident that relegated her to the sidelines, Molly’s Game is about how a woman with a keen intellect and sharp wit chose to build a multi-million dollar gambling empire entertaining billionaires, actors, and Wall Street tycoons alike.
And yes, it’s based on a true story.
Speaking at a Q&A event in Sydney on the life of Molly Bloom, actress Jessica Chastain (who plays Molly) said hers is a story about a woman who “defies expectation”. Molly’s tenacity flies in the face of her detractors, and she finds herself “having power over powerful men” in a world women are traditionally shut out of. Molly doesn’t manage the game the way men do, and it works in her favour.
There is some moral ambiguity in Molly’s Game though: Can someone who has a fierce loyalty to the players, and at times tries to pull them back from major financial losses, still claim to be a person of integrity in an industry marked by brokenness and addiction?
Even at the point of her arrest, Molly fights to preserve the privacy of her clients, whose families and careers she said would risk permanent breakdown if she revealed all she could about them.
Make no mistake Molly’s life isn’t one viewers would necessarily aspire to, but as you learn more about her circumstance and the prejudice she rejected, you might just find yourself being inspired by her.
Molly’s Game is in cinemas February 1st.