Miss Sloane is a ticking bomb of a film. It is high on energy, has zero tolerance for silliness and a penchant for topicality.
Jessica Chastain plays the eponymous character who is as morally ambiguous as she is sophisticated. Kudos to the filmmaker for developing her personality in a manner that suits the storytelling. The character and the story have to work in sync here and Chastain’s compatibility with the material ensures that.
Director John Madden(Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) is blessed with her understanding of the role and the film’s overall atmosphere. Her restrained performance counteracts the weaker elements of the film with aplomb. Guga Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, John Lithgow, Michael Stuhlbarg and Sam Waterston complete the wisely-chosen principal cast of Miss Sloane.
Miss Sloane bases its story on a truly and notoriously American issue- gun control. Naturally, the spirit of the film also becomes very Hollywood, at least in terms of creative liberty. Its Screenwriter Jonathan Perera models his writing style around the celebrated writer, Aaron Sorkin, throwing a lot of rapid-fire dialogues, non-linear narrative and political mumbo-jumbo into the mix, although with lesser flair. The layman will find it slightly uncomfortable to catch up with the heavy-handed conversations and developments in the story. But what is most disconcerting is how cold the film ends up being, courtesy of the unregulated writing, unimaginative direction and undernourished twists in the tale.
It is ironic how much the screenplay stands out in Miss Sloane, despite its flaws. Granted it is mostly smartly written by Perera and aimed at a mature audience who is aware of the film’s central theme.
But, the narrative inconsistency is its biggest tragedy, as the makers are confused what mechanism to use to hold the viewers’ interest till the end. And what we get is insensitive filmmaking till the denouement, at which point the film takes a huge leap in its tonality for the worse. The big reveal in the finale is also not big enough to elevate the film’s quality.
Miss Sloane will be best identified by fans of the hit TV show, House of Cards. The show’s singular style seems to have inspired Madden’s approach to his film. Kudos to him, though, for placing a strong female lead at the forefront in what has been a great year or two for women-centric films, at least in Hollywood.