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Molly's Game by Daniel Pemberton (Review)

posted Jan 12, 2018, 9:38 AM by Kaya Savas

Molly’s Game sees Aaron Sorkin making his directorial debut, and he brought Daniel Pemberton along for the ride. The film tells the story of Molly Bloom who was targeted by the FBI for the underground poker empire she started in Los Angeles that attracted celebrities, tycoons and the Russian mob. Molly’s Game isn’t the first time Pemberton has scored Sorkin’s writing, he got to do that in Steve Jobs. For Molly’s Game we get an extremely solid guitar-based score that is a total expression of what Pemberton does best.

Pemberton has demonstrated he can write some very “cool” music, in fact he is probably the perfect person to score the upcoming Ocean’s 8 movie. What the music does here is lift the narrative on the shoulders of its thematic and melodic structure. There is a very simple central motif that shows up throughout, but the body of the score is Pemberton building structured rhythms. These rhythms come together to build an overall rise and fall structure. We feel this momentum lifting up as Molly builds her empire, and we feel it intensify when stakes are raised and of course we come back for a landing for the conclusion. The score definitely favors style and general tone based on what’s happening in the scene over more intricate emotional structures. Molly’s internal journey isn’t wholly represented by the score, but her external journey is and that is why the score lacks a deeper emotional resonance. But in the end, the journey is worth taking. The score is supremely engaging from start to finish.

Molly’s Game is a perfect example of what Pemberton does best. He is able to create a unique palette for pretty much any film he tackles. The melodic and rhythm-based score for the narrative is successful all the way through. However, we could have used a bit more help from the score to feel Molly’s internal journey rather than rely solely on Sorkin’s dialogue. Pemberton nails the builds and finds the perfect tone throughout to make the score engaging. Simple in approach yet intricate in structure, Molly’s Game is a great ride.