Miss Sloane - This Chastain Rocks. This Movie? Not So Much
Dir: John Madden
Starring Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, Dougray Scott, Jake Lacy, John Lithgow, Dylan Baker
Put very simply, here we have a film that isn’t up to its central performance. Chastain all but eats up the screen as lobbyist Elizabeth Stone, a strong woman in a male dominated world, not only facing up to the inherent sexism of life in DC’s political realm, but taking on the big guns – quite literally – when she goes against her bosses and goes to work for a gun control campaign.
Sloane is an interesting character for Chastain. Steely cold and emotionally distant – she hires male escorts rather than waste time with a relationship, she is a mixture of fight and determination, who is at times so brittle you can almost see the edges that could break. It’s a powerhouse performance, but both Madden’s film, and first time writer Jonathan Perera’s script, are at times almost overwhelmed by her. There’s a (hoped for) touch of the Sorkins around the screenplay, but the film lacks the focus and clarity of such work, finding itself bogged down by the detail on too many occasions. Where it needs to sweep you up and carry you along, it too often leaves you behind. And it’s shift into more obvious thriller elements towards the end fails to ring true.
Were it not for the central performance – despite good work from all others, Mbatha-Raw especially – Miss Sloane would meander off into mediocre, over wrought territory.
Come for the performance. Stay for the performance. But you won’t take much else away.
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