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Miss Sloane

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American politics. A dramatic landscape where power, corruption, laws, ethics, ambition and manipulation interweave and vie for dominance. In the tradition of Mr Smith Goes To Washington, All The President’s Men and The Ides of March, Miss Sloane focuses on the movers and shakers at the periphery of elected officials, specifically the eponymous Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), a lobbyist for a major firm with a ruthless desire to win. Sloane is initially approached by a pro-gun group to aid their cause against firearm restrictions, but after (literally) laughing in their face she goes to work for the supporters of this legislation, an organisation run by Rodolpho Schmidt (Mark Strong). Thus ensues much verbal sparring, scheming and, at times, grandstanding and breaking down. First time screenwriter Jonathan Perera delivers sharp dialogue, a twisty story and some truly amazing sucker punches. John Madden directs with crispness and efficiency, sometimes replaying events to allow the viewer further information that was previously withheld. Wisely, the film is not overloaded with its own politics – corruption is presented as a larger enemy than devotees of the Second Amendment, while the significance of gender is part of the scenery rather than a central focus. Sloane often comes up against entrenched masculinist attitudes but her skill and effectiveness is not specifically tied to her gender. The film offers a powerful brace of performances including those of Mark Strong and Gugu Mthawa-Raw, but make no mistake that this is Chastain’s film. Whether displaying a ‘granite wall’ when facing down a Senate committee, holding team meetings in unforgiving yet jocular fashion, delivering impassioned TV debates on gun control or revealing the vulnerability that lies beneath her seemingly unflappable exterior, Chastain is mesmerising and utterly compelling. There are few performers who can power a film with such relentless pace, but she is certainly one of them.

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