From “The Help” and “The Tree of Life” to “Zero Dark Thirty” and “A Most Violent Year”, Jessica Chastain has consistently delivered fiery performances. You can add her latest effort in “Miss Sloane” to that list. Chastain dominates every scene she’s in (which is most of them) as a fast-talking, win at all cost, DC political lobbyist.
Sloane is married to her career – allowing no time for a personal life or romantic pleasure (even THAT is all business). Her co-workers wonder if she ever gets any sleep (most nights she doesn’t) or if she was ever “normal” as a child. But Sloane (rarely without her bright red lipstick) always has an answer to defend who she is and why she, so badly, needs to win – no matter the risks or consequences.
“Miss Sloane” centers on the lobbyist’s efforts, along with her small band of young associates, to garner enough support in the Senate to get a controversial gun registration bill passed. It’s an uphill fight, and Director John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”) and first-time screenwriter Jonathan Perera provide some fascinating insights into this world of influence, payoffs, favors and deal-making that dominate Washington and the entire political system.
Their choice of the hot-button topic of Gun Control is a good one, but they smartly avoiding taking a stand on the issue by fairly presenting both sides. This is not an “issue film” – it’s a character study.
The material is a bit complex, and the timeline shifts back and forth at unusual points. Some of the dialogue is too rapid-fire and preachy, but the film’s core twists are nicely executed. And it’s Chastain as the unpredictable, but ultimately human, Sloane who keeps you in the game, along with the solid supporting cast of Mark Strong, John Lithgow, Sam Waterston and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Concussion”). Even Christine Baranski (fresh-off that ‘slap-in-the-face’ “Good Wife” finale) shows-up in a minor role.
A 2 hour and 15 minute movie about a lobbyist isn’t an easy sell. However, “Miss Sloane” provides an inside look at a faction within the US political system rarely portrayed on screen, and it’s a showcase for one of the best actress of the decade. It gets my vote.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Miss Sloane” gets a B.
Running Time: 133 min.