With all of the talk of lobbyists and their various unsavory connotations playing an important role in this year's presidential election, it's surprising that Miss Sloane would be released in the same year as said election without at least a modicum of premeditation. Planned or not, the film delivers its message with slick, live wire energy, despite some odd pacing throughout the film. Its success lies in a well written story, and a brilliant ensemble cast, with Jessica Chastain holding court as this film's lead / MVP.
Madeline Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a "nasty woman" of sorts. A cutthroat lobbyist who uses tactics from both sides of the ethical aisle, winning is the only thing that matters to her - no matter the cost. Of course, the more she wins, the higher the stakes become, and they couldn't get higher than her current mission: to pass a comprehensive gun control legislation that her former employers are fighting against. With a tough battle ahead, and very few people she can call "friend," her life is about to get more complicated than ever before.
I cannot undersell how brilliant Jessica Chastain is in this film, as her finely tuned acting chops find a perfect home in Miss Sloane. Part of this is because she knows how to rule a room with the right amount of restraint or bombast, both of which she gets to indulge in during the course of this film. But another contributing factor to her success is the extraordinary cast that surrounds her in the film, with legends like Sam Waterston and John Lithgow joining more recent favorites like Mark Strong, Allison Pill, and Michael Stuhlbarg, to complete an ensemble that all lift the film's material to great heights. Though special mention should go to Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who not only gets a lot of screen time with Chastain throughout the film, but matches her note for note as a worthy scene partner.
That's not to say the film's story is a failure, as this politically charged thriller manages to land punches on the subject of lobbying and ethics in government without becoming a preachy mess. Not to mention, there's a handful of twists in this film that manage to advance the story, rather than deliver manufactured shocks that are merely in place to wow the audience. Even Chastain's big monologue towards the end of Miss Sloane doesn't succumb to any sort of treacle or plot stunts, which is partially because of what the speech entails, but also because it would go against her character to do anything less.
However, the one criticism that Miss Sloane managed to earn in its running time is, as promised, the pacing. With some of the events and revelations that make up the entire plot line, it feels like the momentum that starts to ramp in certain points dies off in favor of more drama. When it comes to life events, that's just the way it is; but when you're telling a story, and you have more control over such elements, this can really hurt a film. Thankfully, that isn't the case with Miss Sloane.
A pot-boiling thriller that takes on the "drain the swamp" mentality of the day head on, Miss Sloane delivers solid drama and legitimate thrills, all thanks to the murderer's row of talent that make up their cast. With luck, this should be another Oscar nod for Jessica Chastain in the making, as she's once more gone above and beyond with her efforts.
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