The talented Jessica Chastain plays an imperious, forceful, stiletto-strutting heroine whose compelling performance of authoritative conviction against a male-dominated political judicial system elevates a convoluted story into a satisfying intelligent new-age political thriller.
Chastain’s Miss (Elizabeth) Sloane is at the top of her game, competitive to a fault, revered and intimidating, yielding power that makes even the most corrupt wealthiest men in suits want to snuff out her career.
Elizabeth Sloane plays her life out like a pro chess player, never yielding, and doggedly determined to “anticipate your opponent’s moves and devising counter measures” she does. Sloane is a ruthless controversial lobbyist lawyer fighting as a reputable female operative, always a step ahead of her opponent, and casting Chastain as an unnerving feminist paradox was pure insight from director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).
After being head-hunted, Sloane changes law firms to accept a challenge to lead the emotively charged civil lobbying of anti-gun laws for a boutique firm, with headstrong boss, old school idealist Mark Strong, leaving a group of misogynistic disgruntled bosses as Goliath size enemies. The woman’s ‘take no prisoners’ attitude makes for a fierce and admirable ride, proving women can break the glass ceiling. However, in Sloane’s case, at a heavy personal cost, swapping out family and love for paid male escorts and impossible success in a corrupt male-dominated domain. Her remarkable strength, viper tongue and relentless confidence to win and only win has you cheering her on to the end, though questioning whether to applaud her as inspired feminist or victim of her own design.
In a similar vein to its intellectual counterpart Spotlight, Miss Sloane reveals harsh truths, exposing the jugular of the powers in the senate in attempt to win her David-and-Goliath prized fight.
Fellow stellar performances in the film include those by John Lithgow (a ‘boys own club’ legislator battling out in court with the aim of destroying Sloane’s reputation), and an interesting romantic lead by charming Jake Lacy who plays Forde, Elizabeth’s paid gigolo.
Whether you like television crime drama or political thrillers, the enjoyment of Miss Sloane is savoured in the dual excellence of both the star and her intriguing character – both women at the head of their game are inspirational, superbly formidable and admirably drawn, that certainly appear to break through that glass ceiling but not without its blood alter sacrifice.
In sum, this is a thinking woman’s film in a man’s world that doesn’t so much push the gender gap as it does the curious inequities of the human condition. Annette McCubbin
‘Miss Sloane’ is in cinemas now.