Legal woes never looked this good! Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain, left) and her attorney Charlie (Idris Elba, right). Photo: Shaw Pictures

Based on the memoir of the same name, Molly’s Game follows the astonishing real-life story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a former Olympic skier who builds an underground poker empire in Los Angeles and New York. Her high-stakes games, held in exclusive hotel suites, developed a reputation and drew everyone from Hollywood stars to the titans of the financial industry.

But Molly becomes the target of an aggressive FBI investigation when her thriving, barely legit business has brushes with the mob. She thus enlists the help of one Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), a respected and upright criminal defence lawyer, who learns that there’s more to Molly than what the tabloids have led the masses to believe.

In addition to being an awards season vehicle for Chastain and Elba, Molly’s Game is also written by renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (the scribe responsible for the solid scripts of The West Wing and The Social Network), who is making his directorial debut. Throw in a token veteran actor in the form of Kevin Costner who plays Molly’s estranged, demanding father and what we have here is blatant Oscar bait. But you know what – this reviewer is biting and I regret nothing!

The most luxurious, decadent man cave? A typical scene in Molly’s poker den. Photo: Shaw Pictures

Chastain, who is widely regarded as one of the best actresses of her generation, doesn’t disappoint! She not only plays the fearsome hustler with intelligence and a mesmerising grace, but she also has a talent for delivering Sorkin’s famously dense dialogue without missing a beat. A feat that has, no doubt, earned her a Best Actress nomination at this year’s Golden Globe Awards. This is only making me extra excited to see her play her mystery role (rumoured to be a Skrull queen) in the upcoming X-Men sequel, Dark Phoenix.

This is a strong debut as director for Sorkin, who is also nominated for a Golden Globe in the screenwriting category, and deservedly so for turning an essentially intriguing true-life story into something quite engrossing to watch on the big screen. The dialogue practically crackles with his signature wit and he makes poker feel as exciting as a heist!

Michael Cera (left) plays a Hollywood celebrity only known as Player X who is rumoured to be Tobey Maguire in real life. Photo: Shaw Pictures

Having said that, I must admit that Molly’s Game, while elegant, is a rather conventional biopic. I fear that it will inevitably be overshadowed by other strong, more astonishing films being honoured this season like that other madcap biopic I, Tonya that traces the rise and fall of notorious Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding.

But, in any case, Molly’s Game is still pretty solid and a worthy film to kick off a new year in cinema.

Molly’s Game is out in cinemas now. Have you seen it? Tell us what you think.