A film review my Madhuri: “An entertaining diversion into a life you don’t want to live. Well-crafted, suspenseful, but most of all cautionary…”
2017 – Director Aaron Sorkin (Social Network, Steve Jobs, Moneyball)
Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Samantha Isler, Michael Cera
2 hours 20 minutes
To me, running a gambling den is right up there with running a restaurant, or being a plumber, for undesirable occupations. But it can be fun to watch people, and for a couple of hours to empathize with them, doing things we’d never do.
This unlikely true story takes a world-class competitive skier, Molly Bloom (Isler, then Chastain, as character grows up) coached by her ambitious father, Larry Bloom (a grizzled, thick-middled Kevin Costner, playing, as always, his own profile – and let it be said here that I like him, since he looks like a beloved family friend from my childhood) – and turns her into a shiny stiletto-heeled high-class gambling maven, raking in the money, juggling the ferocious egos and griefs and triumphs of movie stars, famous directors, Russian moguls, royalty, and so on. This she manages to do for an entire decade, and with a certain amount of compassion and integrity, as well as an awe-inspiring intellectual acumen.
She quits the game, but is still pursued by the Feds, and hires an initially-reluctant lawyer, Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba). But Jaffey comes to admire Molly’s complete refusal to give the names of her clients, even if it means her own incarceration; she did not name them in a book she wrote, and she will not give them up to the Feds – because she knows that their children will eventually hear their dads saying unworthy things on phone transcripts (“I wish I’d never had kids!” being an example).
The other day on Facebook I saw a vid where Osho talks about the dangers of ambition. “Avoid ambitious people!” he said. Certainly the movie enlarges on the theme of the dangers of being driven. The young Molly was so goaded by her father that her adult life seems to have been a misguided rocket, still travelling on his fuel.
Chastain plays Molly with a brittle exactitude, as she sacrifices her wellbeing, peace and health to this drive.
The ending is a surprise – something like sanity interjecting itself into a hyped-up FBI drama.
I came away thinking, “There are great advantages to being a poor silly poet. The Mafia will never take an interest in you. Nor the tax-man. You don’t have to wear killer shoes to work. You won’t be in danger of mistakenly trusting your chauffeur, and finding yourself betrayed.”
I also reflected on this: Human Design speaks of Tribal wiring; this refers to the bargains that necessarily occur when there is more than one person around: marriage is Tribal, money is Tribal, education, child-rearing, and more. Tribal Law can be very unforgiving; so that, for example, the parents of teenagers who elope with a member of another caste, in India, have been known to hang their own offspring. Tribal Law can thus trump biological law…so that the only scene of violence in the movie (and it’s bad enough) made me think, “What kind of force can make an older, well-nourished male beat and threaten a young, vulnerable, beautiful woman he’s never seen before – when you would think he would feel naturally protective towards her?”
Tribal Law. Money. The Organization.
An entertaining diversion into a life you don’t want to live. Well-crafted, suspenseful, but most of all cautionary – this young woman, with her feverish sense of application to goals, might have had a life with intense joy and spaciousness – can spaciousness be intense? No? Hhmmm. I don’t feel qualified to say. Well, let’s say joyful healthy spaciousness…if it hadn’t been for Kevin Costner.
Review by Madhuri