A typically dynamic Jessica Chastain is the main reason to see this above average political thriller
In its finer moments, Miss Sloane has the righteous anger and relentless drive of a Paddy Chayefsky script as it slices into the dark heart of American politics. In its weaker moments, however, it has the feel of a clunky, John Grisham-style thriller in which each twist and surprise revelation diminishes the overall sense of conviction. Throughout it all, Jessica Chastain carries the film with a whirlwind performance as a ruthless Washington lobbyist who wants to win by any means necessary.
There are a lot of elements to enjoy in British director John Madden's eleventh feature – including the pace of dialogue exchanged in a way that almost matches the famously breakneck speed of His Girl Friday. There are some nicely vicious lines too from screenwriter Jonathan Perera, with lobbying described as 'the most morally bankrupt profession since faith healing.'
Chastain's Elizabeth Sloane is all black power suits, high heels and tetchy impatience. She is a whip-smart and seemingly soulless professional, reminiscent of Faye Dunaway's TV executive from Chayefsky's Network. Showing signs of a conscience, Sloane jumps ship to an ethical lobbying company led by Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong). Their task is to drum up Senate support for an amendment to the law on gun ownership. The argument over gun control is permitted moments of heated debate in the bigger fabric of a film that focuses on Sloane, her killer tactics and ability to stay one step ahead of her opponents.
The film unfolds in a mix of flashbacks from a Senate investigation of its protagonist, suggesting that everything may not have gone entirely to plan. As it becomes increasingly slick and contrived, Miss Sloane seems to lose sight of the better film it might have been but it contains some great banter, a cast of old pros like John Lithgow, and Chastain is firing on all cylinders.
General release from Fri 12 May.