I championed Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain\s film debuts as the first stars of the new millennium. Both have disappointed me, Shannon more than Chastain, as he embraced being typecast as a Frankenstein monster and became more drearily offbeat with each rle, while Chastain naively followed every bad piece of direction she was given to the letter, resulting in letter-perfect mi-steps that endeared her with the amateur indie directors who so frequently employed her. I hove kept up with both of them though, always hoping for a breakthrough that would rekindle my initial love for their work, Even though Shannon is always entertaining to watch, he is ultimately a bore, as most oddballs must be, as their shee oddness pre=supposes any true originality. Chastain, however, always shows some promise, but is ultimately sunk by her adherence to the bad ideas of her directors, who obviously adore her.
For the record, Shannon’s work for \jeff Nichols and Chastain’s work for Dan Ireland is impeccableWhatever
This year, Shannon took another freak step into the sideshow tent in the otherwise excellent movie The Shape of Water, while Chastain lit up the screen with energy and imagination as Molly Bloom not the Molly of Joyce, but the true life gambling queen who was indicted for treason for the role she inadvertently played in Russian mob money laundering. Whatever is true or untrue in Bloom’s book upon which the movie is based, or in the movie itself, is irrelevant, as the film, movie, and Bloom herself are subsumed in the monumental performance given by Chastain, and the enormous support she receives from her brilliant co-star Idris Elba, who brings new blood to what is generally the thankless role of defense attorney.
I was glued to the screen for the films entire 140 minutes, even when some aspects of it, such as the backstory with Kevin Costner as the psychologist father. and the miscasting of dullard Michael Cerra in a crucial role, were flawed. Although Molly’s Game is Aaron Sorkin’s debut as a director, it is apparent that he learned his lessons well in writing top-flight screenplays, including The Social Network and A Fee Good Men. Mollys Game should be a leading contender in this years Academy awards, and if it loses in any of the categories to the miserably smug clichés of Three billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, wich made off with underserved awards for both picture and actress, the FBI would be well advised to investigate the academy for collusion with the Russians.
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