Upon a first glance, the new Jessica Chastain led Miss Sloane is slightly reminiscent of the Academy Award winning George Clooney film Michael Clayton: a political intrigue film with a strong and seemingly unflappable lead character. Looking at Michael Clayton, the film featured a behind-the-scenes “fixer” for a major law firm while Miss Sloane has the titular character far more in the spotlight and far more ruthless than even Clayton could fathom. Director John Madden and first-time writer Jonathan Perera bring back the same riveting style of corporate deception that we loved in that 2007 Tony Gilroy film.
Chastain is bigger than life in this film, playing a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., with a reputation of being an absolute destroyer for the biggest power brokers of America, working for the top firm in the country. When a client comes to her specifically to use her formidable skills to get the women of the U.S. behind the firearms industry, she turns it down in spectacular fashion and makes a challenging decision. She quits the firm to work for a far lesser company to take the opposing side of the gun battle, pushing through a new gun control bill. Employing tactics that are ethically and morally questionable, it is unknown what depths Sloane will go to in trying to secure a win for her side – or what the repercussions of plumbing those depths will be.
Not knowing a whole lot about this film heading in, I was really satisfied with the story we got. Sloane isn’t a likable, relatable or sympathetic character in any way but to see her operate is a real treat. Jessica Chastain delivers on all levels in a film dealing with an issue that is really important in North America as a whole. The story of Miss Sloane, put in a simple comic book context, is almost like a Capitol Hill Suicide Squad. In order to defeat a seemingly insurmountable villain, another villain must be put at the head of the battle to get the job done. Describing the film like this should add a bit of intrigue to the review, right?
The cast assembled alongside Chastain is equally great, including an opposition of Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill and Sam Waterston from her former firm, looking to take her down. On Sloane’s side is the man who hired her, Mark Strong’s character, and a headstrong aide played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Every actor gets at least a couple moments to shine and I have to say that, besides Arrival, this is the best shining opportunity for Stuhlbarg this year, one of the best supporting actors in Hollywood. Miss Sloane is smart, revealing and a perfect strong female character film that proves you don’t need to be a purely good or bad character to lead a political film, the gray area is far more interesting. If you want a film that will have you fully satisfied in the issues drama department, this one will suit your needs. 4/5