Aaron Sorkin has carved a niche of his own in the world of screenwriting, having penned iconic dramas that feature his distinct voice and style. Recently, the writer and playwright also delved into filmmaking with his directorial debut Molly’s Game. Inspired by a true story, Molly’s Game is centered around Molly Bloom, an Olympian skier who went on to run some of the most exclusive high-stakes gambling games. The film was well-received and earned Sorkin an Oscar nomination for his screenplay.
His sophomore effort drew even more praise and is expected to be the front-runner at next year’s award season. The Trial of the Chicago 7 deals with a real-life trial that involved several citizen groups who went against the American drafting program during the Vietnam War.
10 Chicago 7: Socio-Political Relevance
Even though the film is set in the 1970s, The Trial of the Chicago 7 evokes themes that are still apt for present-day society. It emphasizes how constant checks and critiques on the government are necessary to ensure the state doesn’t misuse its authority.
The film’s third act especially features several discourses from characters like Abbie Hoffman who stress the importance of citizens using their fundamental rights to the full extent. Racism is also addressed subtly in the film mainly in the way Judge Hoffman deals with the Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale. Even though Hoffman might seem like a dated character, it’s alarming to see him resemble several racist authoritative figures who exist even in today’s times.
9 Molly’s Game: Jessica Chastain’s Lead Performance
Jessica Chastain is the soul of Molly’s Game as she effortlessly gets in the skin of Molly Bloom, capturing the highs and lows of her life. Some critics even considered her performance as the best in her career so far.
She carries several moods in the entirety of the film. Chastain starts off with a certain helplessness after an injury affects her sports career. But then she finds a new life turning into a charming socialite. After legal action is threatened against her illegal activities, she again perfectly brings out her emotionally vulnerable side. While Sorkin’s dialogues are definitely a selling point for the film, Jessica Chastain runs quite a one-woman show.
8 Chicago 7: The Ensemble
The Trial of the Chicago 7 bears one of the most ambitious acting ensembles in recent years. While stalwarts like Michael Keaton, Mark Rylance, and Frank Langella feature in significant supporting roles, the film also boasts of several newer actors who are worth the buzz.
Recent Emmy-winners Jeremy Strong and Yahya Abdul-Mateen join popular faces like Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen to form the lead cast. Cohen gets some of the film’s best lines which he delivers with a deadpan sense of humor. Eddie Redmayne on the other hand plays a passionate student leader with earnestness. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt breaks typecast playing a government lawyer.
7 Molly’s Game: Twist On The Crime Genre
At its core, Molly’s Game is a smartly-written crime drama. The film, like many other Sorkin scripts, features a good deal of legal scenes, too, but it’s the suave gambling scenes that make for good entertainment. Films inspired by the Mafia have oversaturated the crime genre at this point. When it comes to financial crime and money laundering, only a few films tend to have originality, The Wolf of Wall Street being an example.
Molly’s Game, too, makes good use of fast-paced editing and a compelling voiceover to weave a drama on gambling that does have its influences but still avoids the usual tropes.
6 Chicago 7: Quotable Dialogues
While Molly’s Game surely has a great screenplay, it’s Sorkin’s second film that seems to have more quotable dialogues and scenes. Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) and Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) provide fine sarcasm in their quick jabs at the judge. Meanwhile, Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) puts forward several logical arguments following up on his every move in the trial.
Hoffman’s final monologue in the courtroom is another scene for the ages. ‘I think the institutions of our democracy are wonderful things that right now are populated by some terrible people. We carried ideas across state lines. Not machine guns or drugs or little girls.’ Such lines speak for themselves.
5 Molly’s Game: Fast-Paced Editing
The crime dramas fast-paced editing is pretty stylish and similar to that of finance-related films like the aforementioned The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short. It makes use of three editors, Eliot Graham, Alan Baumgarten, ACE, and Josh Schaeffer.
The editing complements Sorkin’s rapid-fire style of writing, making Molly’s Game a thoroughly engaging watch from start to finish. The stakes are always high in Sorkin’s scripts, and this one was no exception, filled with classic Sorkin elements like fast-talking characters and shifting timelines. Hence, the editing was definitely a plus point in making his directorial debut worthwhile.
4 Chicago 7: Emotional Value
With its strong political commentary, the Netflix film surely carries a lot of emotional value that’s strong enough to movie viewers. The protest scenes can be rousing for the audiences. At the same time, the scenes with policemen and supremacists disrupt and attack the peaceful protesters can be equally disturbing and unsettling.
The film is unapologetic in its raw, honest recreation of the events from the titular trial. In this process, the film also serves as a fitting tribute to the citizens from that era who actively fought for social justice.
3 Molly’s Game: Transformation And Liberation Of The Protagonist
Most of Aaron Sorkin’s characters (fictional or real-life) are egoistic males, who aren’t the perfect role models. In Molly’s Game, Sorkin shifts the focus on an ambitious woman who, again, isn’t a perfect role model. His writing is empathetic enough to capture her transformation. She initially interns for brash lawyers and businessmen, only to host games and handle money for such unempathetic men with fat paychecks and fragile egos.
Adding the angle of a dominant, burdening father (played to perfection by Kevin Costner) adds to the internal struggles of Molly Bloom.
2 Chicago 7: The Ending
The Trial of the Chicago 7 ends on a really emotional and moving note, perfectly summing up the revolutionary stance of the film. Tom Hayden is seen as a calm and somewhat obedient character when compared to others. However, a flashback sequence in the third act reveals his rage with unjust authorities.
The cherry on the top is when Judge Hoffman expects a sense of defeat from Hayden while closing the case. Instead, Hayden starts reading out the names of all young soldiers who sacrificed their lives in Vietnam. He goes on to mention each and every name in an attempt to honor the fallen and expose the futility of the War. This symbolic act of defiance might just make it a film of cult status for the future.
1 Molly’s Game: Blending Genres
While Sorkin has experimented with the genres of legal drama and biopic before, Molly’s Game doesn’t go the straightforward path of being limited under one genre.
It’s an adrenaline-fueled ride on its own, blending several genres including crime drama, legal thriller, biography, and even a hint of comedy in between. While Kevin Costner’s role represents classic family drama themes, Chastain’s screen presence brings wit and emotion. Idris Elba as Molly’s lawyer adds to the legal jargon in the film. The unconventional biopic effortlessly shifts between genres in this manner.
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