Jessica Chastain is a good actress. That sentence is not a shock to anybody. Miss Sloane, both engaging and middling, is a wonderful reminder of her excellent talent. From the first frame, Chastain grabs the film by the scruff of its neck, and charges forward with her grip ever tightening. Calm and controlled throughout, she is the beating (ice-cold) heart of the film. It’s an award-worthy performance that shows why the American is considered one of the best of her generation. The film is lucky to have her involvement.
The issue is that John Madden’s film provides Chastain no one to bounce off. Gugu Mbatha-Raw performs well (yet again), and Michael Stuhlbarg is suitably game whenever his character shows – yet it’s all skin-deep. With a cast containing big-hitters like Pill, Lithgow, Warburton and Strong, the result feels light and unengaging. The less said about the minor characters the better.
The film always engages, but there’s a sense that the script thinks it’s far cleverer than it is. With Sorkin-esque dialogue, Miss Sloane contains an almost Tommy Gun-like approach to wit and insight. Sometimes the gems hit, most times the dialogue flies far off the mark. The result is at times patience-trying. The film makes you contemplate its flaws increasingly once the final credits roll. How can a woman who sleeps just four hours a day be so exquisitely put together? How is she always two steps ahead? This all leads to an eye-rolling conclusion that feels like a weak Agatha Christie novel where the culprit turned up in the last ten pages. It’s a tad trying.
It’s too long and falls far short of the quality it thinks it contains, but Miss Sloane is always an engaging watch. Its strongest asset? The ferocious, outstanding, inimitable Jessica Chastain.
CAST: Jessica Chastain, Michael Stuhlbarg, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, John Lithgow, Sam Warburton
DIRECTOR: John Madden
WRITER: Jonathan Perera
SYNOPSIS: In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is the most sought-after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. Known equally for her cunning and her track record of success, she has always done whatever is required to win. But when she takes on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds that winning may come at too high a price.