The patriarchy is a prison from which many women never escape, which is why movies about women making the system work for them are almost like medicine. Our next dose comes courtesy of Molly's Game, Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut about Molly Bloom, out this Christmas. And with this Molly's Game exclusive clip, you can watch Jessica Chastain, as Bloom, fall victim to the patriarchy — a turn of events that inspires her inevitable rise to power.
Molly's Game tells the true story of Bloom, a woman who worked her way to the top of the exclusive poker game world. But before she ran one of the most exclusive poker games in the United States, Molly was just an assistant. Working as an assistant to Dean Keith, an underground poker player and game organizer. During the work week, she worked as Dean's personal assistant, and on the weekly game night she worked the game as a pretty girl who could run the table, serve drinks, and keep track of the cash. It might sound glamorous, but as Molly's Game makes clear in this clip, it was far from a lucrative position.
In this exclusive clip, Dean tells Molly he's going to stop paying her as his assistant, saying she makes enough in tips from the game and "it doesn't seem fair" to pay her for both jobs. As if this wasn't a low enough blow, it comes just after Dean accuses her of throwing the game, asking her if she was "in bed" with one of the players — an attack on her integrity and her sexuality.
Any woman watching this scene from Molly's Game will say the same thing: that's the patriarchy. Molly herself sums it up perfectly when she asks Dean, "You're going to stop paying me to do that job because I'm making too much money doing my second job and if I say no I'll lose both jobs because it doesn't seem fair?" The patriarchy as exposed in Molly's Game is trapping women in unfair situations, ones that forbid them from moving forward. Molly's boss knows that he needs her for the game, but he also mistakenly assumes that she needs him to be a part of the game and earn her living.
It's how Molly reacts to this oppression that drew Chastain to the part. "It's always interested me, what women do to navigate patriarchy," the actor said in an interview with The New York Times. "When I got this script, it was something I was waiting for my whole life, to be able to sink my teeth into a female character like this."
A big part of embracing that character was working with the real Bloom, who met with Chastain before production began. The actor went to Bloom with questions about everything from her family stories to her wardrobe choices (a key tool that helped Bloom work the system in her favor when she was running the poker games). "We talked about clothes. I know that sounds like something that isn't important," Chastain told GQ. "But actually, in that world, it's very important, how someone presents themselves, especially when you want to be powerful in an industry dominated by men."
To succeed in underground poker, Bloom had to change the way she looked and acted to play into the male-dominated system in order to get ahead. According to Chastain, for Molly's Game that meant dressing like pop star Jennifer Lopez. "What, in our society, do women have to do to present themselves so they can be heard? She [Bloom] told me that J.Lo was a style icon and I was like, 'This is gold for me,'" she added.
For women, working within the patriarchy while maintaining ambition is a tricky feat, as displayed in Molly's Game. And there are many roads to success. One of them happens to be to dress like J.Lo.