Film review, MISS SLOANE, from ‘Built For Speed’

In political drama Miss Sloane, Jessica Chastain plays Liz Sloane a powerful and influential Washington DC lobbyist notorious for her ruthless pursuit of victory on any issue. With Pitbull-like ferocity and the relentlessness of the Terminator she twists facts in what is euphemistically referred to as re-framing to ensure her client wins the debate. Initially working for a right-wing firm that spins corporate malfeasance into free market crusades, she (remarkably) has a moral epiphany when asked to sell the gun lobby to women to help defeat a gun control bill. Decamping to the other side, a small left-leaning lobby firm led by the superbly named Rodolfo Schultz (Mark Strong), she heads a campaign to uphold the gun-control bill and in the process launches into a brutal struggle against one of the most powerful lobbies in the US and against her embittered former colleagues.

Through first-time scriptwriter Jonathan Perera’s feverish Aaron Sorkin-esque dialogue , Brit John Madden’s intense direction and a fierce performance from Chastain, Miss Sloane successfully captures the viciousness of politics, the hyper-stressed world in which lobbyists operate and the maniacal glee with which spin doctors manipulate people’s world view.

The film provides audiences with a painful dilemma, though, as many will support the title character’s fight for gun control but still find her manic behaviour, bluntness and zero emotional intelligence thoroughly obnoxious. Chastain has expertly created a riveting character but one with whom it is difficult to side which is a problem for a film based around a moral cause.   Also, the film stretches credulity as Sloane enlists covert surveillance operatives to ferret out incriminating information about enemies and seems to anticipate every situation and checkmate her opponents with sneaky ingenious plans worthy of a Batman villain.

Despite having some awkward characterisations the film can still be enjoyed for its craft and quality performances not only from Chastain but also a typically good Mark Strong (wobbly American accent aside), an excellent Gugu Mbatha-raw as the more sympathetic lobbyist Esme Manucharian and veteran John Lithgow playing a creepy Senator who is not a million miles from the sleazebag he portrayed in the Will Ferrell comedy The Candidate.

Miss Sloane is at times infuriating but it’s often clever and thought-provoking and despite its two hour plus length it’s rarely dull.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Drama.

Classification: M.

Director(s): John Madden.

Release date: 2nd March 2017.

Running time: 132 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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