Miss Sloane is directed by John Madden (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) with a screenplay written by first-time writer Jonathan Perera. The film stars Jessica Chastain as lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane as she is called in front of a Congressional hearing, all the while attempting to get enough votes to pass a piece of gun-control legislation.
Through its terrifically written script and excellent cast, Miss Sloane establishes itself as a compelling political drama with intriguing characters, a story which is intense from start-to-finish despite the length of the film’s run time being over 2 hours long.
The shining light of Miss Sloane is its script. Perera does a commendable job crafting witty, yet often stinging dialogue throughout the film’s 132-minute run time. The exchanges between Sloane and her colleagues is a throwback to the writing talents of Aaron Sorkin, seen especially in The Newsroom. The script is snappy, funny, yet occasionally tragic. All the while, its deconstruction of the lobbying system is simple enough to understand for someone who has a passing interest.
As well as that, it is through the writing that Jessica Chastain shines in the titular role. Chastain, who is already one of the best actresses in the world right now, excels as Sloane, an emotionless, ruthless lobbyist who will, and does, do anything to win. That sort of character portrayed by anyone else would be utterly unlikeable. However, Chastain brings a vulnerability to a character whose tragic backstory is only alluded to in a single scene in the film. Chastain’s performance gives the character a relatable, complex, and vulnerable edge, which enhances the film as a whole.
She is joined by a very capable supporting cast, including Mark Strong and the very impressive Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Mbatha-Raw portrays an idealistic, yet tragic character who has to hide her experiences for the sake of the cause. The chemistry between Mbatha-Raw and Chastain is key to the relationship between Mbatha-Raw’s character (Esme Manucharian) and Elizabeth Sloane. The story that transpires between Manucharian and Sloane is a tragic one which characterises the pure ruthlessness of Sloane in her attempts to win as a lobbyist.
Despite the goodwill that the film builds up through its excellent writing and talented cast, there are some notable issues with the movie. For starters, its tone, plot and characterization can’t help but channel memories of House of Cards, a superior political drama. While Jessica Chastain is talented enough to rival Kevin Spacey’s characterisation of Frank Underwood, one can’t get away from the feeling that Miss Sloane is riding the wave of momentum of House of Cards.
The other notable problem that the film experiences is at its climax. The turning point of the film centres around a twist ending that I won’t spoil here. While it is well-constructed, and the musical score of Max Richter enhances its execution, it’s contrivance and convoluted nature leaves the viewer asking more questions than it answers. As well as that, it detracts from the message of the film being that even justice had to be lobbied for.
Despite its weaknesses, Miss Sloane is a brilliantly-written, and well-acted political drama. The script, which is written to the quality expected by the likes of Aaron Sorkin, is complimented terrifically well by a cast which is anchored by the fantastic Jessica Chastain and the impressive Gugu Mbatha-Raw. While it doesn’t reach the heights of House of Cards as an insight into political corruption within the United States system, it is an excellent film in its own right.