Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is one of DC’s most veracious lobbyists with a reputation for winning whatever she puts her mind to. When her firm is approached by the gun lobby, her moral center guides her in a different direction, putting her squarely against one of the most powerful groups on the Hill.
Something tells me that lobbying is not not nearly as adrenaline pounding in real life as it is here, but no matter. Miss Sloane is a political thriller filmed as a caper, filled with intrigue, hard hitting dialogue, ruthlessness, and surprises. Going full James Bond when it comes to espionage, Miss Sloane is built for entertainment, but doesn’t leave its smarts behind even if it does sensationalize now and then.
Let’s get this out of the way – this is not a movie that is going to appeal to many who count themselves on the far right. Even I didn’t quite appreciate the way in which the gun lobbyists and their ilk are painted as being unquestionably wrong – and I think the film would have benefited had it shown some ambiguity alternate points of view, even if it arrived at the same conclusion. It’s also unabashedly feminist, not so subtly pumping the “girl power” fist throughout with an overarching theme of empowered women. It’s not afraid to fly these flags high – sometimes benefiting from it, sometimes not, but always interesting.
Whip crackingly sharp dialogue peppers the script, mostly flowing a million miles a minute from the mouth of Chastain who bounces off her co-stars – including Mark Strong – like a caffeinated word ninja. She devours ever scene she’s in, making it impossible for you to tear your eyes away. Never devolving into melodrama, this film thrills and inspires from start to finish, with plenty of startling moments along the way to keep you on your toes. You may think you know how things are going to turn out, but you’ll probably be wrong, even if the film gives itself away from the very beginning.
The weak aspect of the film that jumps out at me is the lack of any political complexity. Despite starring a flawed hero, the story pretty simply boils down to good vs corruption, without allowing for any actual dialogue about the subjects it purports to be tackling – primarily gun control here. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so effectively fun if it had gone down a more serious path, but I would have liked to have seen it try.
Miss Sloane is a highly entertaining ride that goes at a nearly blistering pace, about a complicated, mundane, and mostly foreign subject (lobbying). The character Chastain creates is one that you could imagine showing up again and again, in various scenarios, taking on different challenges and skewering them all to the delight of the audience. She carries the film fully on her shoulders with an easy stride, giving what could have been a mediocre story a shot in the arm.
If you like intrigue and excitement set in a believable world, I invite you to meet Miss Sloane.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
Brother Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: four out of five hats
Miss Sloane argues her way into 1,598 theaters, December 9