JESSICA CHASTAIN owns Miss Sloane and it’s the strongest character she’s played since her Oscar-nominated performance in Zero Dark Thirty.
But it’s the strength of her character’s commitment to her career over everything else, including a personal life, that is making reviewers a little crazy.
She doesn’t smile and her choice for sexual partner will make people uncomfortable.
A male actor in “Mr. Sloane” would have much better luck.
The reviews have not been kind.
Deadline’s Pete Hammond gets it right.
But the fact remains this is an explosive movie, a dramatic powder keg of a political thriller, will have those who go to see it talking long after they leave the theater. And it gives the wonderful Jessica Chastain a real showcase role that is her best at least since her Oscar-nominated work in Zero Dark Thirty. She’s sensational as Elizabeth Sloane, a D.C. lobbyist whose prime goal is just the win, but things get complicated when other factors enter into her decision to ditch her firm when they take on an NRA-style gun advocate cause. She goes to another firm representing the pro-gun control legislation now up for a vote, causing an earthquake-like response in this film, which keeps piling on so many twists and turns it will make your head spin.
Chastain tackles this challenging paradox by playing Sloane for who she is: tough, driven and uncompromising. The warmth that earned Chastain her first Oscar nomination for The Help is stripped away. As Sloane, Chastain’s only smiles are self-satisfied ones. The actor doesn’t sweat to earn sympathy; it’s Sloane’s tenacity that demands it. It’s a brave approach, and it works.
That central performance makes Miss Sloane compulsively watchable even as Perera’s script grows increasingly ludicrous in its final stretch (the film runs an unwieldy 132 minutes). What was first a lean thriller morphs into twist-filled jumble, resembling the John Grisham novels Sloane reads before going to bed. Chastain single-handedly prevents it all from veering off the rails by dominating Miss Sloane with her forceful presence. She grounds her heroine to ensure you’re with her.
Jessica Chastain should be headed for an Oscar nomination.
But ballsy, single, career women at midlife, without children or a husband, tend to shrink the balls of the Academy (and some moviegoers), especially when the lead character takes on a story about gun legislation that makes everyone look bad.
People are more comfortable with movies like Girl on a Train, which requires weak women to play characters that revolve around loving a man unworthy, or a movie with Vin Diesel and exploding car chases.
Miss Sloane is a thrill ride fitting what’s coming out in novels these days. It’s clear a lot of film critics have no clue about book trends when they apply to uncompromisingly strong leading ladies.
See a movie this holiday season.