Released in 2017 to critical acclaim, Molly’s Game is a modern movie about high stakes underground poker that broke the mould thanks to a killer combination of style and substance. Fans of writer Aaron Sorkin would expect nothing less from any one of his screenplays, but the fact that he also made his debut behind the camera with this movie is also impressive.
If you managed to catch the film during its cinematic release, or have since enjoyed it at home, you might have found yourself nodding your head along to the original soundtrack, put together by Daniel Pemberton.
So since this soundtrack is available as a separate release from all good outlets, including streaming services like Spotify, is it worth a listen?
There’s a very consistent theme throughout the soundtrack, with driving rhythms, pounding bass and impressive use of percussion coming together to emulate the slick style of the film’s story and dialogue. It all kicks off with ‘Staring Down a Mountain’, referencing the skiing accident that put the title character’s original career on ice and forced her to turn her talents elsewhere.
Gentler additions are added as the album progresses, touching on the softer moments with appropriate levity and never managing to overstay their welcome. There are also funk-tastic offerings to get you hyped up, with ‘Set It Up’ proving particularly lively. It’s easy to imagine sticking this on as you prepare for a night out, or when you’re looking for something to keep the adrenaline flowing. If you’re looking to emulate Molly, whilst undoubtedly keeping on the right side of the law, there are plenty of casino games available with Casumo in the UK.
By the time you’ve sifted through the first five or six tracks, the album definitely falls into a particular groove…or a rut, depending on your point of view. The lack of vocals means that it is better suited as background music to accompany another activity, as already suggested.
There aren’t any real melody hooks to latch onto, and over the course of the 20 tracks your attention is certain to drift, so do not expect to be completely enthralled by this soundtrack. There are a lot of more memorable alternatives out there, although they tend to be orchestral or electronic rather than rock-influenced.
The Redemptive Qualities
Some of the features of the Molly’s Game soundtrack which make it worth returning to, or even checking out in the first place, are its subtler elements. The bombast of the louder numbers can seem a little attention-grabbing, but the sparing use of piano in the sweetly melancholy ‘Molly’s Dream’ and the quiet desolation of ‘Scars’ help alleviate a few of the earlier attempts to overwhelm the listener with noise.
The final two tracks are appropriately climactic, with ‘Therapy Session’ almost having a Brian Eno-like quality to the soundscape it creates. You might be able to imagine playing it on a loop as a means of relaxing after a hard day at work. This is followed by ‘All The Beauty In The World’, which starts small but builds to a euphoric crescendo with wailing guitars, soaring strings and effusive drumming.
In spite of its positive reception, Molly’s Game did not set the international box office alight and managed to make $59 million globally during its theatrical run. This is perhaps an appropriate reflection of the soundtrack itself, which is effective in places without necessarily having the staying power you might be hoping for in a cinematically inspired audio experience.
Of course since it can be streamed rather than purchased outright, there is no harm in giving the soundtrack a listen and seeing for yourself.