Sunday, 14 May 2017
#44 MISS SLOANE
Starring Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston and John Lithgow. Written by Jonathan Perera and directed by John Madden.
Budget $13 million. Running time 132 minutes.
Set in the world of the Washington political lobbyists, the films follows career lobbyist Miss Sloane (Jessica Chastain) as she takes on the impossible task of securing a win against the gun lobby on a controversial imminent gun control vote. Defecting from a powerful right-wing lobbying group, Sloane is headhunted by Mark Strong's Rodolfo Schmidt to help him and his left-wing lobbying company secure enough support to win the vote - she has 70 odd days to win the votes of 45 floating Senators. Sloane is an obsessed and utterly driven career woman who has a laser-like drive that forces her to succeed at any cost, and that's exactly what she does here. She has no family, no friends and pays for the services of a male escort. Plus she suffers from insomnia and pops pills to stay awake.
The film is beautifully written and powerfully acted by all, but most noticeably by Jessica Chastain, who is in every single scene, and Mark Strong who both give a masterclass in acting. They are a total delight to watch and once again prove they are superb actors of real quality and class.
The film is a behind the scenes glimpse of the world of political manipulation and lobbying and it's utterly engrossing, right up to the bit when it stops being a serious political drama and becomes something totally different than what the preceding 128 minutes had lead us to believe. And that includes a fantastic sequence where Sloane reveals a secret about one of her colleagues during a live TV debate that is genuinely shocking and shows us the true depth of her obsession to succeed.
However, what this story twist, so late in the day does, is to dramatically lessen the drama of the entire story as it dumps the glorious political intrigue for a classic, 'under-dog' type story where our hero beats the big bad man with a cunningly plan of incredible complexity, which when it is revealed in the final court room showdown just drags what could have been a solid 10/10 down to an 8/10. And it also stops this film from ever becoming considered a modern classic. Still it's an odd thing to say that a film that gets an 8/10 could be considered to have failed.
Entertaining, intriguing and dramatic but sadly hamstrung by the need to make this like a John Grisham novel adaptation and have a last minute court-room revelation that frankly stretches credulity.