It feels like just yesterday I was an innocent fifth grader sitting around your kitchen table, discussing trivial fifth grade matters with your daughter, and taking vigorous mental notes on how to become a successful writer and beloved artist such as yourself. I assumed by 2018 I’d still be working on it, and you’d still be telling important stories the compelling way you do. Your work never ceases to leave me full of hope for humanity, and Molly’s Game is no exception.
In this movie, you took a story I predicted would appeal mostly to male audiences and stripped it to its feminist core. Instead of portraying Molly’s lifestyle as purely lavish and glamorous, and sexualizing her identity as an underground poker dealer, the drama in the plot fell within the tension between Molly’s past and present lifestyles, as told through your impeccable screen direction (stellar first attempt, by the way). Fervent flashbacks serve to show Molly’s continuous quest for success, be it in Olympic skiing or dealing poker games. She remains strong and independent throughout the entire film, despite enticing business and personal offers made to her by high-profile men.
Male and female audiences alike would’ve loved to see Molly indulge in affairs with her regular billionaire clients, no matter whether or not such events really occurred in Molly Bloom’s life. Plenty of hotshot directors would’ve taken the bait and rendered her as a helpless muse. You kept the plot purely business-focused and left all of Molly’s love life to the imagination, which is rare in a drama film with a female protagonist, and makes her presence that much more powerful.
A character who easily could’ve come off as sexual, manipulative, and bossy was depicted as the fearless, intelligent, and headstrong woman she was in her real-life poker schemes. During games she wasn’t flirting with her customers; she was researching the fine print of poker and reading The Crucible. Though it would have been easy to paint a criminal such as Molly negatively, you don’t conceal her emotional vulnerability or diminish her power. She is instead recognized as a powerful heroine, and almost a role model (minus the criminal charges). Such praise is typical of a male criminal but rare for a female.
Molly’s intense persona fits perfectly within the structure of your signature dialogue, which is always fluid and fiery between any two characters in your stories. In this film, Molly’s quick wit is showcased in her heated conversations with her lawyer, Charlie. She argues with one of the most powerful attorneys in the business who is only trying to help her avoid jail. Her courage and determination is empowering to watch, especially as a feminist who aspires to one day work alongside powerful people, but not let their influence silence my voice when it comes to issues that matter to me.
The stylistic choice to keep the names and identities of the poker players private also made this film one that not only respects women, but one that respects the integrity of all people. Instead of turning this story into a gossip-filled tabloid, you made art.
Now more than ever, you are a role model to aspiring writers like myself and to so many others in your industry, regardless of age, gender, or celebrity status. While our esteemed “City of Stars” has been tainted by pedophiles and predators who are hardly heroes, you’ve served as a powerful antithesis to such despicable behavior. By portraying powerful, complex women who don’t take crap from men, you work directly against the structures within Hollywood that have allowed for unabated abuse of women for too long.
You’ve been an inspiration to me since I’ve known you, both as a writer and a person, and your newest film does not fall short in any way. I can only hope this film helps take Hollywood in a new direction—one where women are portrayed as human beings who do not succumb to men no matter how high the stakes are. Thank you for being a role model to anyone who appreciates both the magic of the movie business and the power of raising and representing strong, independent women.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.
How to cite this page
Corwin, Dorrit. "Sorkin’s Game." 12 March 2018. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on August 20, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/sorkin-s-game>.