Magazine article Screen International

'Miss Sloane': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Miss Sloane': Review

Article excerpt

Dir: John Madden. US. 2016. 132mins

Charting the journey of a ruthless lobbyist who develops a conscience, Miss Sloane is a shallow but lively thriller which becomes undermined by its makers' misplaced belief in the profundity of their topical tale.

The latest from director John Madden (Shakespeare In Love) has its fair share of wild twists and juicy political strategising, not to mention an entertainingly chilly performance from Jessica Chastain. But for all its superficial pleasures, Miss Sloane is entirely too enamoured with its unconvincing air of insider-y intrigue, resulting only in pat lessons about the corrupting influence of money in government.

After premiering at AFI Fest, this EuropaCorp release will arrive in select US cities on November 25, hoping to land two-time Oscar-nominee Chastain some awards consideration. Miss Sloane should appeal to adult audiences, especially those who can't get enough of Beltway television dramas such as House Of Cards and Scandal, and a supporting cast that includes Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and John Lithgow will only sweeten the deal.

Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane, a powerful, feared lobbyist who is part of an influential Washington, D.C. firm which is paid to persuade congressmen to pass legislation that is beneficial to its wealthy special-interest clients. But when she's approached by a non-profit run by an idealist named Rodolfo Vittorio Schmidt (Strong) to advocate for a law that imposes stricter gun-control measures, Sloane quits the firm to throw her weight behind a cause in which she believes.

Reuniting with Madden, with whom she worked on The Debt, Chastain gives Sloane the same kind of steeliness that she provided in Zero Dark Thirty and A Most Violent Year. As before, she proves adroit at playing a woman whose unapologetic ambition deeply unnerves the men around her, signalling a sexism which her character tackles head-on. No surprise, then, that Sloane is most captivating when she deftly outsmarts her opponents - particularly, the men of her old firm (including Michael Stuhlbarg and Sam Waterston) who are working to kill the gun law.

Emphasising tart dialogue and giddy one-upsmanship as the two sides finagle to secure the necessary votes, Miss Sloane positions itself as a frank, sleek depiction of how lobbyists have perverted American democracy and allowed moneyed interests (such as gun manufacturers) to dominate the legislative agenda. …

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