Jessica Chastain is one of the best actresses on the planet. So when her mostly riveting film Miss Sloane gets bogged down in repetitive plot points, she’s always there to guide you over the hurdles. Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) from a script by first-timer Jonathan Perera, the movie follows Chastain’s Elizabeth Sloane, a woman who knows how to smile while cutting your throat. She’s not an assassin – she’s a D.C. lobbyist, which may be worse. Sloane has just walked out of her job with bossman George Dupont (Sam Waterston) because the creep wanted her to sell the gun lobby to women. There are some lines Sloane won’t cross.
OK, not that many. Her moxie gets her hired by a non-profit firm, headed by Rodolfo Schmidt (the excellent Mark Strong), who lets her poach most of her former staffers, except for Jane Molloy (Alison Pill) who decides to stay with the enemy. God help her. Sloane’s first major assignment is to take on the NRA by driving home a gun-control bill. With her power suits, stiletto heels, and fire-red lipstick to match her hair, Sloane means business. Her rivals are on alert. But she also collects dirt on her co-workers just because it might come in handy. Pity poor Esme (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the associate who tells Sloane a family secret that will come back to haunt her. Home and hearth are not for our anti-heroine. She gets off with male escorts, the latest being Forde (Jake Lacy), a stud who asks too many questions.
Sloane is a nasty piece of work. Yet Chastain draws us in, making us see what the character keeps inside by the sheer force of her fireball performance. There are times when Miss Sloane plays like a pilot for a TV series. No knock on that. If Chastain stars, I’m in.