The 2017 biographical film Molly’s Game tells the story of a woman who operates an exclusive high-stakes poker game that eventually attracts the attention of Russian mobsters – but how true to life is it? The film sticks pretty close to the facts as they are related in author Molly Bloom’s book of the same name. Not only was the screenplay closely based on her memoirs but she was very involved with screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, throughout the production. However, there are some elements of fiction included for dramatic effect.
According to the movie, Molly Bloom’s skiing career came to an end during a qualifying run for the Olympics when she fell badly, resulting in a back injury. In reality, Molly’s injury occured when she was only 12 years old but did not keep her out of competitive skiing. While at college, she qualified for a US ski team and went on to take 3rd place in the USA. In her book, she states that, having achieved this goal, she decided to quit and explore new avenues.
Introduction to the Poker Tables
True to life, Molly took a break from her law degree and moved to Los Angeles where she had various jobs waitressing, one of which was for Darin Feinstein (Jeremy Strong) of the Viper Room (Cobra Lounge in the movie). Nowadays, most poker players play online at sites like Online Slots NZ but back then, many club owners operated backroom poker games.
Feinstein asked Molly to help him run his backroom poker games, during which time she found out as much as she could about the game. Feinstein’s clients included the rich and famous, from property moguls, celebrities, well-known actors, politicians, and billionaires. Molly was a quick learner and her attractive persona and manner very soon had her raking in huge tips. As a result, Feinstein stopped paying her a salary, which led Molly to start up her own poker game where she became known as the ‘Poker Princess’.
The most significant player Molly talks about in her book is Toby Maguire of Spiderman fame, presumably depicted in the movie as Player X. Details of his gambling prowess are overshadowed by stories about his vicious and cruel nature and the obvious delight he took not only in winning, but in the losses suffered by other players.
Although in the film Molly is portrayed as being offhand with Player X, in her book she states that she was seriously worried by his influence and how he could ruin her. Eventually, a disagreement leads Player X to take Molly’s poker game away from her, as occurred in real life. Other famous actors mentioned in the book include Leonardo de Caprio and Ben Affleck, although these characters aren’t specifically mentioned by name in the film.
The Russian Mob
The Mob caused endless trouble for Molly and eventually resulted in her downfall and arrest. The film stays very true to the account of her terrifying ordeal at their hands, including an offer of protection which she turned down. Consequently a gunman was sent to attack her in order to ‘persuade’ her to meet with them again to reconsider. Fortunately, before this could happen, the mobsters were arrested by the FBI.
Molly’s Father’s Role (Kevin Costner)
In her book, Molly’s competitive nature and determination to succeed can be seen very early on, and was, in no small measure, due to her father, who drummed into his children the importance of hard work and a professional career. In the movie, her father visits her during her trial and gives her some serious advice. However, this is not in the book and it’s unlikely that it actually happened. Sorkin probably introduced it into the film for added drama and to better illustrate her father’s influence.
Charles Jaffey (Idris Elba)
In the film, Jaffey is Molly’s lawyer but although she did employ lawyers after her arrest, he was not one of them. He took on Molly’s case after reading her memoir, but in fact her book was only published after her trial. However, the appearance of A-list actor Idris Elba was a big draw card and his involvement in Molly’s trial added drama as well as empathy with her case.