Cert 15 140mins Stars 4
Aces actress Jessica Chastain goes all in and comes up trumps in this terrific poker playing biopic.
This is practically Goodfellas for the girls, a super glossy, high tempo character driven drama, stacked with high stakes all-night card games, drugs, alcohol, violence and the Russian mob.
The real life Molly Bloom was an Olympic standard skier who postponed a law degree at Harvard to spend a year relaxing in the Los Angeles sunshine.
Soon she’s running big money card games in LA and New York for the super rich and famous. Always under-estimated by men due to her lip gloss and low cut tops, the knowingly glamorous Molly uses her wits to exploit men’s stupidity and amass a fortune.
But the FBI arrest her and she’s forced to make a choice between integrity and freedom.
Bang at the centre is yet another terrific performances from the mesmerising star of Miss Sloane, Zero Dark Thirty and more.
Chastain users her ferocious charisma and dynamite talent to deliver a performance of nuclear articulacy. She should just be given this year’s best actress Oscar and be done with it.
The script by director Aaron Sorkin, writer of TV’s The West Wing, provides her with a stream of acidly comic lines which she fires off with self amused detachment. He also directs with dynamism and takes every opportunity to point out how misogyny fixes the odds in powerful mens’ favour.
Just as in Sorkin’s biopic of tech guru Steve Jobs, the emotional weight of the story rests on a parent/child relationship. However it’s disappointing this strong and independent women is defined by a relationship, and not allowed to succeed or fail without reference to a significant other.
Supporting players Kevin Costner and Idris Elba just about manage to stay in the game, but it’s Chastain who holds all the cards.