Review: Jessica Chastain plays a Washington insider to icy perfection in Miss Sloane

Jessica Chastain as Elizabeth Sloane in John Madden's US political thriller Miss Sloane. Picture: eO

Jessica Chastain as Elizabeth Sloane in John Madden's US political thriller Miss Sloane. Picture: eOne - Credit: PA

John Madden's US political thriller failed to be an Oscar contender but its cynicism and touching faith in the utterly venal nature of Washington means its more relevant than ever.

Mark Strong as Rodolfo Schmidt and Jessica Chastain as Elizabeth Sloane in MIss Sloane. Picture: eOn

Mark Strong as Rodolfo Schmidt and Jessica Chastain as Elizabeth Sloane in MIss Sloane. Picture: eOne - Credit: PA

Miss Sloane (15)

***

Failed Oscar contenders, limping into a limited number of screens some weeks after the awards have been gushed to their anointed recipients, are always vaguely pitiful.

And when it is a political drama conceived during, and aimed at a very different political reality, the sense of being forlorn and having nobody left to play with, are greatly exacerbated.


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Fortunately John Madden's political thriller's cynicism and touching faith in the utterly venal nature of the Washington political system means it comfortably holds its relevance.

Miss Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a ruthless Washington lobbyist (and cold hearted career woman) who specialises in fighting against taxation bills that might impinge on the wealthy.

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Even she though baulks at the offer of trying to make the gun lobby appeal more to the female demographic and decides, seemingly on a whim, to defect to a low paid, ethical company, run by Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong), to push for a gun control bill that appears to have no chance of making it through the Senate.

In her new job she uses all her old sleazy and cynical tactics in pursuit of a moral goal and one of the more aggravating parts of the film is the hand wringing and tutting of her new liberal colleagues at her methods: they employed her to get things done, after all.

For at least half its running length the film, from first-time scriptwriter Jonathan Perera, mirrors the Washington culture it supposedly critiques. It's slick and glib and utterly self enchanted with how slick and glib it is.

It is aloof and removed from audience it is supposed to be serving. They talk really fast and seem to be really smart like in the West Wing, which only emphasises how political drama and satire has become a self serving bubble.

Stick with it though, in its second half the film manages to reach out and embrace the reality of the issues it is dealing with, and becomes surprisingly worthwhile and unexpectedly engaging.

Chastain is imperious, revealing tiny chinks in her character's polished armour as she teeters precariously on the precipice of self-annihilation.

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