I'm admittedly kind of a soft touch for the subject matter in Miss Sloane -- when I answer political surveys about issues most important to me, gun control is right at the top. So a film about the efforts of lobbyists to get a gun control bill passed (and the opposing firm trying to stop it) has inherent appeal for me, and I thought much of the film provided pleasures similar to Spotlight, allowing us into a work environment where we can see the intricacies of people doing their jobs, sometimes doing them well, other times struggling against the system. The movie barrels along at a pretty swift speed, and I found its blend of breakneck dialogue exchanges and twisty plotting quite entertaining, at least up to a point.
But there does become a point when the movie's storytelling starts to feel less Aaron Sorkin and more Shonda Rhimes, where the plot's insistence on continually pulling the rug out from under the audience makes it hard to take fully seriously, despite the obviously weighty subject matter. And I thought the ending tipped the movie into ludicrous land -- I found it very difficult to buy that Chastain's final plan would have gone off without a hitch, that it would have necessarily led to the result it did, and that any rational person would have made such a choice. So, despite finding much of the movie a kick, the lack of credulity in the plotting made me ultimately find the movie a sudsy effort rather than anything hard-hitting.
Jessica Chastain, though, is dynamite, in a strong role -- her Elizabeth Sloane is smart, brash, manipulative, motivated by decency but happy to use people to get what she wants, controlling but reckless, confident but desperate. She handles the movie's mile-a-minute dialogue with great energy, shows a more sensitive side in private heartfelt conversations, and knocks out several big dramatic speeches. And she really does help sell some of the movie's more outrageous plot turns. After Crimson Peak -- where I thought she was not good at all -- I'm happy to be reminded of what I've liked about her as an actress, and why I think she'll be delivering exciting work for the foreseeable future.
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