It’s been a year of change across the entire globe in 2016 in many different aspects, not least in the US where an unprecedented presidential race ended last month. But for all the change that has happened one discussion still remains hotly contested from both sides of the argument: gun control and the 2nd amendment and what needs to happen for things to change for the better. Miss Sloane, a politically charged thriller set in the world of gun lobbyist, simply couldn’t be more timely on all fronts.
Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is one of the US prime lobbyists and has been for many years – confident, strong and supremely potent in what she does, Sloane lives and breathes her job. Her latest assignment revolves around new government legislation plans to implement background checks on gun owners and is tasked with trying to bring it through Congress successfully. With pro-gun enthusiasts are on her tail and the nation split over the second amendment, as well as her former colleagues, Sloane is tested more than ever and her values tested to the extreme.
Written by debutant Jonathan Perera, Miss Sloane is taut from the outset: opening on Sloane practicing a speech direct at camera, the film is choked full of dialogue that both crackles and whips at a ferocious pace in a very Aaron Sorkin-esque way. Indeed you’d be forgiven for thinking he wrote this one given the energy and verve of if this is a marker for Perera’s future trajectory then consider us intrigued. Director Madden, famed for Shakespeare In Love, keeps proceedings edgy and purposeful with a coarse visual style that heightens both the tension and state of mind of our lead as she tries to fight back the cracks in her armour.
The true driving force behind the film is the magnificent Jessica Chastain who continues to dazzle and will cement her status as one of (if not the) best actress in Hollywood right now. She has been good before but with Sloane she reaches her apex of her power and could well be walking away with a golden statue come February. It’s a performance that stays with you long after the credits as if you’ve been through ten rounds with Muhammad Ali such is the ferocity and power behind her portrayal, yet in the quieter moments as the character wrestles with her demons there is a heartfelt, honorable undercurrent that rounds off a quiet stunning performance.
Ably supported by a stellar cast that includes superb performances from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, herself continuing her impressive form in the last couple of years, Mark Strong and Michael Stuhlbarg. When you add the authority and command of Sam Waterston and John Lithgow into the mix, you get what might just be the best ensemble of the year.
While some may find the film somewhat overbearing and too political, Miss Sloane is one of the most powerful and ferocious dramas of the year that is as exciting as it is thoughtful. Anchored by a stunning lead performance from Jessica Chastain, Madden’s film could just be this year’s dark horse in the awards race.