Aaron Sorkin is a director now, and, no surprise, the subject of his first movie seems like she was created in the lab where he writes his pithy dialogue. Molly’s Game follows Molly Bloom (played by Jessica Chastain), a real-life 26-year-old who went from nearly making the U.S. Olympic ski team to running a high-stakes poker ring in Hollywood and then New York City. After moving to L.A. for a year before law school, Bloom helped her boss run his poker game until she began overseeing one of the most exclusive games in the country on her own. After letting Russian mobsters into the game, she was eventually arrested by the FBI, who hoped to turn her into an informant. All of this information is relayed in the first trailer for Molly’s Game via voice-over narration, because this is a Sorkin movie.
Sorkin isn’t the first to tell Bloom’s story; she published a memoir (the extremely long-titled Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker) about her time as a poker magnate, and received some attention after publishing an excerpt in Vanity Fair studded with the names of celebrity clients like Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio. Sorkin came to the story by way of a lawyer friend who represented Bloom after her arrest. He read Bloom’s book, met with her, and felt immediately certain that he wanted to write a movie about her story. He didn’t plan to direct, but the movie’s producers, Mark Gordon and Amy Pascal, convinced him that he was the best person for the job. He clearly took his new role seriously. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he detailed some of his research: “You know 1 Oak? I’d never been to a club before, so just knowing I’d have to film a scene at one, I had to know what one looks like and what went on there. So I went and sat in 1 Oak for about half an hour.”
Interestingly, Sorkin’s portrayal of Bloom focuses on her reluctance to trade information about the celebrities who played at her table in exchange for personal immunity. For this reason, Sorkin has said that the movie won’t depict specific celebrities; “I’ve done my best to obscure identities,” he said in the same EW interview. “Molly’s called Molly, but everyone else is a composite of some kind.” So, in case you were wondering, a composite of Tobey Maguire and Matt Damon apparently looks like Michael Cera, who stars in Molly’s Game as a member of the cool, exclusive, high-stakes poker ring. (It feels safe to say he isn’t playing himself.)
Based on the trailer, Molly’s Game does seem more concerned with Bloom’s own story than with her proximity to celebrity. It paints her as dominant and self-assured even when she’s imploring a criminal lawyer (played by Idris Elba) to take on her case. When he hesitates, she says, “I’m getting that you don’t think much of me, but what if every single one of your ill-informed, unsophisticated opinions about me were wrong?” I’ll bet that’s what Sorkin plans to prove.
Of course, Sorkin’s very apparent admiration for Bloom and her story may come from the fact that she’s kind of a dreamgirl, someone almost unrealistically suited to cinema. The trailer shows a woman who asserts strategic and financial power in a room full of men, all the while looking really hot in a just-tight-enough black gown. It’s not hard to see why Sorkin fell for a character so ready-made; let’s see if, when the movie comes out in November, he can make us fall for her, too.