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Why Molly’s Game Isn’t Actually A Poker Movie, According To Aaron Sorkin

Molly's Game Jessica Chastain

Poker has arguably become its own subgenre over the years, with films like Rounders and even Casino Royale going all in (see what we did there?) on their dissection of the sport. Given that history, one could easily assume that writer/first-time-director Aaron Sorkin would consider his new film, Molly's Game, a natural addition to that gaggle. However, the screenwriter recently sat down with CinemaBlend at a press event in Los Angeles and explained that Molly's Game isn't a poker movie because the poker is the not the element of the story that we invest in as an audience. Sorkin explained:

This isn't a poker movie. There is no scene in the movie in which we care who wins or loses a hand. In fact, there's only one scene where we dramatize an entire hand. It's when Bill Camp's character Harlan Eustis goes on full-tilt. So what I knew what I wanted to do with the poker sequences, because anytime I stumbled across poker on ESPN or something, I find it to be the world's worst spectator sport. It's not very interesting to watch. It's not very exciting. I wanted to set up micro shots. Shards of poker games. Chips, money, cards, decks being cut, cards being shuffled, ice going into glasses, cigarettes being lit, more money, more cards, folding, raising, that kind of thing. I wanted a thousand of those shots to be able to build those poker scenes and make them exciting and always make them ultimately anchored by, it's not about the poker game, it's about Molly watching the poker game.

For Molly's Game to work, poker needed to be included in the story. There is no tale of Molly Bloom's character arc without the games she ran for a decade in Los Angeles and New York City. However, Aaron Sorkin's attitude towards the game was to make it dynamic and reflect the wheels that turned in Molly's head as she watched the games. This story is a movie about a woman dealing with an arsenal of personal demons, and the poker merely represents the thing that offers her an outlet and a path to fame and fortune.

This type of storytelling is not necessarily uncommon for a writer like Aaron Sorkin. In fact, looking at his recent filmography shows how he uses these kinds of backdrops to frame his films. Saying Molly's Game is a poker movie is arguably like saying that The Social Network is a movie about programming, or Steve Jobs is a movie about the Mac. They're merely framing devices to tell more in-depth and more personal stories.

If you want a closer look at CinemaBlend's conversation with Aaron Sorkin about his work on Molly's Game, then take a look at a clip from the interview below!

Molly's Game is currently out in select theaters, and the film will open wide this weekend on January 5, so make sure to read CinemaBlend's review of it before heading out to your local theater. Beyond that, we still have an entire year's worth of movies to get to, so take a look at our 2018 movie premiere guide to get a better sense of what's on the horizon over the next few months!

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.