As a performance milestone, Miss Sloane holds the hidden ace. The courage from Jessica Chastain inspires my continued belief in great acting. She’s 100% committed to this characterisation. Even when her self-confidence skyrockets, something in the eyes foretells a fracture concealing layers of doubt. It’s a tightrope Chastain confronts via determination, willpower, experience and spontaneity. Also, it’s the stuff little golden statuettes are made of.
Playing Madeline Elizabeth Sloane, Chastain doesn’t invite glib empathy. This workaholic gun lobbyist shuns personal attachments, even enlisting a male escort. Her prodding alienates the competition as much as her co-workers. However, there’s respect for her in the workplace. Why? She makes things happen. Her currency of blackmail might push through an anti-gun campaign. Yet how many toes will she break in the process?
John Madden’s sophisticated drama reveals the cutthroat pond known as politics, where only the fish with sharp teeth survive. Hence it takes a little getting used to the rapid fire interactions.
A memorable cast feels empowered by Jonathan Perera’s script; a theatrical production based on well-oiled machinery. The latter makes his debut here, and one can only hope he will be attached to equally meaningful projects in the future. Meanwhile, point man Mark Strong proves most excellent as Chastain’s boss. He appears more surprised than anyone at the remarkable moves made by his apprentice. Adding to which, Sam Waterston adds significant gravitas to every line. If like me you hold a fond familiarity for this Oscar nominated actor, it’ll seem necessary to pay attention. After all, he’s a master of his craft.
Back to the main attraction: Chastain. She braves the open waters, stretching her vulnerability until we see the human being underneath the conservative presence. For such conviction, I give her a round of applause… and a poem:
Politics dirty or clean
Miss Sloane plays mean.
Once more the game of chess
Revealing skill under duress.
Jessica Chastain a noteworthy force
Strong acting from her of course.
Nearing the checkmate
Some are left in a state.
The need to win
Announced via cash and sin.
Playing the roulette wheel
Who might be broken by the deal?
Votes to pass the bill
Might mean career kill.
A lesson in morality shared
And fragile human emotions bared.
(Released by EuropaCorp USA and rated “R” for language and some sexuality.)