MISS SLOANE (France | USA/15A/132mins)
Directed by John Madden. Starring Jessica Chastain, Alison Pill, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jake Lacy
THE PLOT: Powerful and formidable lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is one of the most sought after people in her field, but when she switches sides during a campaign to change the background check policy for gun ownership, she finds herself up against one of the most powerful opponents of her career.
THE VERDICT: There is something of ‘Michael Clayton’ about Jessica Chastain’s latest film, and a touch of a mid-2000s feel, without the film feeling dated or old fashioned. There are times when the film gets a little caught up in itself, but it is, on the whole, a taut and engaging thriller.
Jessica Chastain leads the cast as the titular Miss Sloane, and the film is framed around her deposition to a Senate hearing about her potentially breaking the law and engaging in illegal activities for the sake of winning. Chastain makes Sloane an abrasive, cold and calculating character, but also allows the audience to root for this closed off and focused character. The rest of the cast features Mark Strong, Jake Lacy, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow, Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Sam Waterston, who all support Chastain wonderfully.
First time screenwriter Jonathan Perera had the script for ‘Miss Sloane’ picked up and on the road to being produced within a year, and his singular voice shines throughout the screenplay. The characters are all well drawn and have a purpose in the film, and the relationships feel real and relatable. There are times, however, when this tightly scripted and engaging political thriller gets a little too caught up in jargon, and with double cross after double cross, it is often difficult to keep track of just who is against whom throughout the film. That said, ‘Miss Sloane’ is a tight and enthralling political thriller, and a decidedly female story, albeit not a feminine one.
Director John Madden tries his best to keep the pace of the film moving throughout, but gets caught up and tangled toward the start of the second hour, giving ‘Miss Sloane’ a slightly flabby and slow feeling. That said, the performances in the film are strong, with Jessica Chastain shining in a role that is different than what we have seen her in of late. The tension and danger in the film feel real, with the audience being given a chance to root for a character who would certainly be treated differently if she were a man.
In all, ‘Miss Sloane’ is a taut and exciting thriller. Jessica Chastain shines in the lead role, and is backed up by a wonderful and powerful supporting cast. The screenplay and direction of the film are strong, for the most part, but there are times when a tighter directorial vision could have cleared up the slower parts of the film.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Arriving here five months after its US debut (an unusually long wait), it’s a surprise that Miss Sloane was ignored by the Oscars. If anything, Jessica Chastain’s powerhouse performance as the title character was deserving of an Oscar nod. Maybe in a less Trump-dominant year.

    Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) is a high-stakes lobbyist in the viper’s pit that is Washington D.C. She’s carved out a reputation as being coldly ruthless and gets results by whatever means necessary. When she receives a campaign from her law firm boss George (Sam Waterston) and colleague Pat (Michael Stuhlbarg), she laughs at it and rejects it outright. It’s a campaign from the powerful gun lobby to get women more involved with protecting their constitutional rights to bear arms. A bill is being prepared to protect this. Instead, she switches sides and joins Rodolfo (Mark Strong), who works at a rival firm which is presenting the opposite argument: gun control. Not content with just leaving, she also snatches several colleagues to bring with her, including Esme (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who has a deep personal connection to trauma brought about by guns. To add to all this, she’s being investigated by a Senate sub-committee chaired by Congressman Sperling (Jon Lithgow). Victory is achievable… but at what price?

    Jonathan Perera’s screenplay made the Hollywood Black List in 2015 and it’s not hard to see why. It’s on the money in dealing with the thorny issue over gun control (or lack thereof) in modern, post-Columbine, post-Sandy Hook America. John Madden’s film is much more than that though. It’s a film that relays various perspectives on the issue in a clear and mature manner. A film about DC lobbyists doesn’t sound that thrilling on paper, but it sure helps to have a solid cast to sell the meaty drama. It’s built mostly around one character – the indomitable Miss Sloane. As Rodolfo says at one point, she’s a piece of work. She’s entirely devoted to her job, obsessively eats in the same Asian restaurant every evening and barely lets her guard down to male escort Forde (Jake Lacy). She’s a control freak who has built a fortress around herself, with the world revolving around her rather than the other way around. She’s a fantastically written character, but only an actress who could portray her in all her facets, both good and bad, could pull it off.

    The Times described Chastain’s performance here as ‘thermo-nuclear’. That’s a bit excitable. Fiery, ballsy, supremely confident and unmoveable as a mountain would be more accurate. She’s the driving force of the film and deftly manages to keep Elizabeth at a remote but admirable distance. A quote from similar political drama Our Brand Is Crisis springs to mind – ‘If you fight with monsters for too long, you become a monster’. Elizabeth has become a monster of sorts, using people like Esme for her own ends. But she’s also the kind of monster that is necessary to fight fire with fire. Madden only thought of Chastain when casting Elizabeth and it shows – the camera is in love with her and barely leaves her side. It’s certainly an Oscar-worthy performance. The rest of the film is well-cast and fills out the House Of Cards-style political maneuvering. If you like House Of Cards, then you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. Miss Sloane is far more engaging and thought-provoking than it sounds and comes highly recommended. ****

    • Clive Bower

      As previously discussed i watched this a long long time ago in America. Really enjoyed back then, a quality film with a great cast, really interesting with a great twist in it . Exactly the type of film i love, go and see it you will not be be let down