MISS SLOANE offers more proof that few actresses can play “power women” with more white-hot gravitas, form-fit elegance, cutting intelligence and laser focus than Jessica Chastain, adding another smashed shard of the glass ceiling to her briefcase with this 2016 drama. Basically, if you see her coming, you can’t look away, but you better have something relevant to sputter or she’ll blast over you like a fighter jet zapping a blimp.
“Career suicide’s not so bad when you consider the alternative is suicide by career.”
‘Elizabeth Sloane’ (Chastain) is lobbyist-for-hire in Washington D.C., renowned for her ruthlessness in a town crammed with cutthroats. When she puts her honed fury to work for a firm lobbying to pass a bill that pushes background checks on firearms, her previous employers, hired to shill for the gunmakers, set out to destroy her along with the legislation.
Chastain delivers with such presence that she can take someone who does despicable things to win and make her not just riveting to watch but somehow invite us under the skin of such an isolated and driven character with such minute perception that they evoke twisted sympathy. She’s blessed with a stiletto-sharp script from Jonathan Perara, and director John Madden’s pacing keeps her slicing through the dense verbal battlefield in breathless locomotion.
Also a pleasure seeing Mark Strong playing a good guy with as much élan as his roster of villains, and watching Sam Waterston submerge into sleaze-mode as one of her opponents. Ace supporting cast hit all their notes with precision. The final flip is a delicious dish of “best served cold” desserts.
Done for $18,000,000, it only took in $3,500,605 in the USA (hidden at 187th place), but did scare up another $5,600,941 abroad, where better-informed citizens seemingly pay more attention to our rot-generating system than we do.
With Michael Stuhlbarg (excellent), Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow, Jake Lacy, Alison Pill, David Wilson Barnes, Chuck Shamata (scoring as a flack for gun manufacturers), Meghann Fahy, Dylan Baker, Christine Baranski. 132 minutes.