Jessica Chastain was inspired by an unexpected person for her latest role

Here's what the critics have to say about 'Molly's Game'

We witness her being pushed by her domineering father (Kevin Costner) to succeed in Olympic-level skiing, watch her establish a weekly high-stakes poker game in Hollywood and have it wrested away from her only so that she might create a bigger operation in New York City and see her deal with the indictment that falls in her lap when the Federal Bureau of Investigation comes calling with charges of tax evasion and myriad other infractions. After suffering a bad injury during Olympic qualifying, Molly's days as an athlete end. You absolutely believe that this woman found it simple to wrap powerful men around her little finger. I walked into his 140-minute Molly's Game expecting a dry, wordy poker movie. She gets tipped very generously and her new profession is born.

In the movie's version of events, the skiing accident-a true one-in-a-million fluke-set her on a path that she eventually lost control of.

Dialogue heavy but fast-paced, "Molly's Game" is a fascinating story of boldness, charisma and integrity.

Most of the exchanges between Jaffey and Molly take place in his office, often late at night, as he pokes, prods and probes, trying to comprehend her behavior, her motivations, and - most particularly - her unyielding refusal to identify the "fish" whom she nurtured and (surprise!) in many cases genuinely cared for.

Idris Elba swats his American accent to and fro in interesting fashion but is otherwise fantastic as Charlie Jaffey, a high-end attorney who takes Molly's case even though her assets have been seized, she's broke and she's facing nearly certain jail time. If she's somehow able to find more strong roles like this and stay away from nonsense like The Huntsman: Winter's War, her film career could go on for decades.

Directed and written by Aaron Sorkin (based on the book by Molly Bloom); produced by Mark Gordon and Amy Pascal. In Chastain, he cast the ideal actor for his lead. Her genius lies in her ability to render unique-yet- strong female characters whenever required, never mind if the genre is horror (Crimson Peak), historical drama (The Zookeeper's Wife) or a modern thriller (Miss Sloane).

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This is presented as her redeeming feature. It is a tremendous performance and it is impossible for me to imagine anyone else being better in the role. The rapport between Bloom and her lawyer evolves into a mutual respect, neither compromising their beliefs along the way.

This is clear movie-of-the-week stuff elevated to something worthwhile because Sorkin is more interested in the evolution and entrapment of a brilliant mind than he is in movie stars playing poker. That's when viewers might realize that, as entertaining as the tale has been, every character in the film seems to have spoken in the same cadence, with Sorkin's own operatic self-assurance, humor and perfectly turned phraseology. Elba is an excellent actor who had yet to really get the opportunity to showcase his skills on the big-screen. Some scenes look like they could be in a top sports movie, others in a top mob movie and the poker scenes rival any in "Casino" or various Bond movies.

Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) is a former skier who had to shift career goals when an injury halted her Olympic dreams. Not only are they all good, each of those characters get at least one big moment and the actors all take advantage of it.

However, Sorkin can't keep up this pace over the course of the film and it begins to flag at the end. Aaron Sorkin has done something pretty remarkable in his first directorial effort: he has made a thoughtful, insightful film about a complex, real-life story that is also really fun to watch.

Molly's Game has been rated R for language, drug content and some violence.

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