Miss Sloane – Film Review by Lisa Jewell
Director: John Madden
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow, Sam Waterston
The murky world of Washington lobbyists and their seeming lack of ethics is the focus of this John Madden helmed legal thriller. Miss Sloane is Elizabeth Sloane, played by the always impressive Jessica Chastain.
She lives for her work and the opening scenes establish her as high powered, strategic and ambitious. She’s called to a congressional hearing led by Senator Ronald Sperling (John Ligthgow) to answer questions about her involvement in a campaign involving the Indonesian government and the controversial palm oil tax.
But soon it becomes apparent that another lobbying campaign is far more important to the story – when Elizabeth is asked by a potential client, a pro gun lobby group, to come up with a campaign to recruit swathes of women as gun advocates. Her reaction to this is completely unexpected and soon afterwards, a move to the gun control side is on the cards. Will her style of lobbying work for them and just what is her motivation for taking up such a job?
The film is clever and the narrative is expertly crafted so that expectations are built up and undercut. It is very much in the vein of legal thrillers such as the John Grisham films (A Time to Kill, The Client etc) and also reminded me a lot of Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney and Tilda Swinton. If you like this genre and eagerly consume each series of House of Cards, you will love Miss Sloane.
The writing is top notch and moves along with pace. The cast acquit themselves well and the film really hangs on Jessica Chastain’s performance – a lesser actress wouldn’t be able to pull off the complexities of this role and you really believe her as the remarkably self assured Miss Sloane.
Where the line is drawn and where it is crossed are at the heart of the film, along with a focus on how easily people can be bought off. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely could be the tagline for the movie.
The film was received well critically after its release late last year in the States but underperformed at the box office, which is a shame as it’s intelligent and keeps your interest (though it could have benefited from a slightly shorter running time). It also passes the Bechdel test with flying colours, which can’t be said of that many films nowadays. Definitely worth a watch…and to get the most from the story’s turns, don’t read up about it beforehand!