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Soundtrack review: Molly’s game (Daniel Pemberton – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Molly’s game (Daniel Pemberton – 2017)



“Molly’s Game” is a 2017 American crime drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (in his directorial debut), based on the memoir Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom. It stars Jessica Chastain as Bloom, along with Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, Chris O’Dowd, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Claire Rankin, Joe Keery, and Jeremy Strong. The film follows Bloom, who becomes the target of an FBI investigation of her underground poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, athletes, business tycoons, and the Russian mob. Daniel Pemberton wrote the score.

If 2017 had lasted one more month, Daniel Pemberton could have given Benjamin Wallfisch a run for his money as composers of the year, not only as quality of the music but also as number of releases; he ended the year with “All the money in the world”, “Black Mirror – USS Callister”, both fantastic scores, and now it’s time for “Molly’s game”. Seconds, literally, is how much it takes for me to realise this is a Pemberton score: the opening cue “Staring down a mountain” is a cool, funky, electronic piece without melody but with enough rhythm to compensate. It also has a vibe that seriously reminds me of Hans Zimmer’s “Joker” theme from “The dark knight” with the aggressive, tortured strings.

The game is poker and the people involved are celebrities so the composer takes these elements and flies with them giving his score a smooth, funky 70s sound that sometimes makes me groove in my chair and snap my fingers; a cue like “Set it up” is one of those cool heist pieces that never get old. I remember just a couple of weeks go I listened to one of my favourite scores of 2017, “Forza motorsport 7” by Kaveh Cohen and Michael Nielsen and it was all written in the sound of this cue and I just can’t get enough; it’s rock, it’s funk, it’s fun and infectious. “Play your hand” is just as good and exciting and now I want to see the movie to enjoy this awesome music in context, even if this album transcends film music for me.

“Molly’s game” is one of those scores where the cool factor is just through the roof; there is no way anybody can not like this score or feel the need to get off their chair and do something; the music is infectious, positive and has that heist sound that if done right, is simply spectacular. As always, even as a standalone listen Daniel Pemberton’s composition is a winner; I can imagine myself driving while listening to it or having an intense running session as the pace of the score keeps things hot, or, better said, electric. With a few clever, quieter emotional breaks like “Therapy session” and “Molly’s dream”, “Molly’s game” is basically non stop action fun and the perfect end to Daniel Pemberton’s crazy year. Add this to your collections.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 35 / 55

Album excellence: 64%

Staring Down a Mountain
Set It Up
Play Your Hand
Red & Black
House of Cards
The Playmates
The Russians
Molly’s Dream
Beyond Your Means
Therapy Session
All the Beauty in the World

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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