Miss Sloane: Perfect Chastain Performance in Imperfect Thriller
It’s going to take a certain kind of crowd to fully appreciate the latest efforts from Shakespeare in Love director, John Madden who – along with first-time screenwriter Jonathan Perera – decides to go deep down into the knotty core of American politics in the flawed but entertaining political-thriller, Miss Sloane.
Played by Jessica Chastain, Elizabeth Sloane is a smart and ambitious strategic lobbyist working for a powerful DC lobbying firm run by George Dupont (Waterston). There is very little that can get in the way of Miss Sloane, who is known for always being one step ahead of her rival, often turning on immoral and seemingly ruthless methods – including blackmail and illegal surveillance – to secure her aim. After refusing to take on the company’s latest assignment of supporting the powerful pro-gun lobby in their opposition to a new legislations, Sloane decides to jump ship and switch sides by taking on a job in a smaller boutique lobbying firm run who are working against her old company by trying to get that very same legislation passed.
Sloane manages to take most of her team with her, with the exception of her protégé, Jane Molloy (Pill) who has opted to stay behind and work alongside Sloane’s archenemy, Pat Connors (Stuhlbarg). Little time is wasted and Sloane is quick to roll up her sleeves and get down to business, building her case bit by bit, preparing to face off against her old firm while also working hard to tie in the experience of a traumatised past mass shooting survivor, played by the wonderful Gugu Mbatha-Ra, in order to get her win.
Smart and witty, the dialogue in Miss. Sloane is deliberate, often twisty and extremely fast-paced with its style and energy reminiscent of an Aaron Sorkin kind of vehicle – The Social Network, A Few Good Men.
There’s a lot to take in that isn’t helped by the over–plotted script, but the film still manages to keep things relatively engaging. Unfortunately, its one- hundred-and-thirty-two minute running time is a bit of a drag – if you’re not into talky political thrillers you should stay well away.
Luckily, Ms. Chastain – probably one of the best actresses working in Hollywood today – is there to tie things together delivering yet another Oscar-worthy performance as a fearless lobbyist whose only goal in life is to win. She’s not easily loved, her backstory or motives for switching sides are never really explained, but regardless of her cold and clinical demeanour, audiences can’t help but be drawn by her. It’s a shame the movie’s ambitions couldn’t match her talent.