2016 AFI FILM FEST: In a time of fiery debate, just following a tumultuous election year, nothing is as timely or educational as John Madden‘s politically charged “Miss Sloane.” Constructed by a crackling script by Jonathan Perera, in his boisterous debut, the film is rich in words and helmed by an enigmatic turn by Jessica Chastain. Emulating a second coming of Aaron Sorkin in his prime, Perera, in partnership with Madden’s distinct vision, creates an orchestra of dialogue and story, all leading to a genuinely surprising finale.
“Miss Sloane” tells the story of a brilliant and ruthless lobbyist, Elizabeth Sloane. She is notorious for her unparalleled talent and her desire to win at all costs. When she goes rogue to push a gun control measure in America, her career and morals are put at risk.
Firmly entrenched as Elizabeth Sloane, Chastain manages one of her finest performances yet. Nimble in movements but nearly paralyzing in line delivery, the Oscar-nominated actress is unparalleled in her sheer excellence and commitment to the craft. The twist and turns of the tale allow her to precisely land each punch to the stomach with advancing intensity. It’s a complete and marvelously unstoppable force that is worthy of Academy Awards consideration.
Not acting alone, Chastain is supported by a strong cast. Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s sensitive and affirming work is magnetic, even if the character’s opportunities are not fully discovered. As the vulgar but intriguing opponent, Sam Waterston makes a case for Hollywood to remember that he still remains Oscar-less after an impressive career. Staying in the lane of “sleazy challenger,” Michael Stuhlbarg is able to do this role in his sleep and just make it look too easy.
Sprinkle in a love interest from Jake Lacy, a corrupt senator from John Lithgow, and a revenge seeking former employee from Alison Pill, and you have one of the year’s most snappy and creative ensembles.
“Miss Sloane” is an intelligent and informed look into the corruption of politics. It shows the vigorous nature in which politicians yearn to keep their positions and how our leaders are often picked and sabotaged. Engaging the audience with its chilling resonance, the film is often beautiful in its slick and smooth exterior, blended with its dark, and even at times creepy undertones of American politics. Weighty and ardent, its reduction of emotion can be a distance for some, perhaps even off-putting. The cynical and vivacious storytelling method could even be pushed as outrageous to a general movie goer or critic. Its hypnosis is darn strong in every frame. Chastain fills each scene with a fervency, delicate in which she lays them from her luscious lips and all too stylish business suits.
“Miss Sloane” crackles with excitement and performances. A riveting game of cat-and-mouse, standing toe-to-toe with other political machinery films of the last few decades. It unmasks the raw, honest truth of the system. As a portrait of power, the high tension and cynicism can be hauntingly charming. You can get wrapped up in its webbed-up world of civics and government. It is a simmering gem to the year.
“Miss Sloane” is distributed by Europa Corp and will be released on Nov. 25.