Some people learn the hard way.
I know I do…but is there really any other way? How do you really know the depths of your integrity or the dimensions of your heart unless you bump up against life in a way that tests it?
Although her story is extreme, the experiences of Molly Bloom (the so-called “Poker Princess”) really started me thinking about lessons and motivations in my own life. Well…that’s when you know you’ve seen a great movie, when it reaches in and gets you pondering like that.
Insanely well-written (by the great Aaron Sorkin) and barreling along at high speed, we follow the trajectory of a woman who was seemingly raised to train hard, push herself, achieve excellence, and go for the gold. Literally. And she ends up applying those skills in the dice-y arena of high stakes (VERY high stakes) poker.
Ah…but there’s more to the story.
Not just the “HOW?” but the “WHY?” is fully explored here, and I was reminded that there is a lot more going on in life than just the surface events. Not everyone has a taste for these deeper motivations, but ya know what? They are there, and they are RUNNING THINGS, whether you choose to examine them or not.
Every level of gambling is explored here: financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, and of course, addiction. You may start out risking just money, but at what point does it turn and you are wagering your very soul? I’m not kidding. It both captivated and scared the bejesus out of me. (Some of the poker game scenes got me so nervous I wished I had one of those fidget spinner things to take the edge off.)
As the character of Molly, Jessica Chastain is on her best game (pun intended). Whip-smart and intense and mesmerizing to watch, she is believable both as a sharp, opportunistic young woman who goes too far down the rabbit hole, and also one who painfully learns who her friends are, what she stands for, and where she draws the line. She gets my vote for a Best Actress Oscar. Especially this year, when women all over the country have been wrestling with much the same thing. #metoo
Ultimately Molly must answer this question: I may be able to gamble with and destroy my own life, but can I do that to others? Under enormous pressure, she has to dig deep for the answer, and no bluffing this time.
When you leave the theater ask yourself, honestly, what would YOU do?