December 9, 2016Posted at 8:33 PM
Miss Sloane has one of the best trailers of the year, and it also features one of the most interesting performances of 2016. Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of the film’s title character singlehandedly elevates Miss Sloane from a Confirmation-esque TV movie about a woman with a cause, to a well-executed film about the politics of politics. Without Jessica, the movie wouldn’t work. But with her, it sings, and becomes a movie that will make for a great watch on cable, on the weekends, for years to come. It’s not perfect, but its twist ending makes the slow-burn thriller all the more fun to watch. Oh, and Jessica’s Miss Sloane is a #NastyWoman too.
Miss Sloane (a.k.a. Elizabeth Sloane) is a woman who loves her job, and a tenacious fighter who wants to win at all costs. Like she says in the trailer, she’s a lobbyist who does what she can to stay one step ahead of her opponent, or anybody who stands in her way. The film shifts back and forth in time between a congressional hearing about Sloane’s ethics and practices, and her routine at and after work. She’s a “nasty woman” because she’s so ruthless and ambitious, not necessarily because she makes vile choices.
At first, her gig involves helping sway a senator to vote down a bill through the arrangement of an “educational” first-class trip for him and his family to Indonesia. With her ethical lines seemingly blurred, Sloane is approached by an anti-gun control senator for her help in taking down a gun reform bill by catering to women. After she balks at the opportunity, she decides to switch sides, and tries to take the gun lobby down… by taking most of her team with her, except for her protégé, Alison Pill’s Jane Molloy. It also makes for the best “What is this, Jerry Maguire?” scenes since Begin Again. As Alison recently told Glamour, “true badassery has no gender.”
So, that’s when the chess game begins. Who can (and who will) outsmart who, especially when the gun lobby has exponentially more resources and deep-pocket donors? At her new firm, Sloane replaces Alison’s Jane with Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Esme (who is equally as terrific as Alison). Esme becomes the reluctant spokesperson for their cause when Sloane looks into her past, and discovers she survived a school shooting. And of course Sloane uses this piece of intel to her advantage. Why wouldn’t she, if it helps her win? Her new boss Rodolfo (Mark Strong, in a Zero Dark Thirty reunion) prefers to peg her as somebody who “doesn’t sleep at night, and just sits up and obsesses about winning.” That’s true, but it’s not all of the truth.
At the film’s New York premiere, Jessica talked about how playing a ruthless, ambitious woman was important to her. She said something very similar to Lainey and me at the film’s Toronto premiere on Monday. She also added that she originally thought a woman who loved her job this much would look like a mess, but that she loved playing up the glamour for the role, because this is a woman who always wants to look her best in order to be the best. Interestingly, the film’s credits gave special thanks to both The Room (a high-end department of the Hudson’s Bay Company), and Piaget. They both helped outfit Jessica for the shot-in-Toronto film.
And the film takes full advantage of its Toronto production team. Director John Madden reteams with Jessica for the first time since The Debt. At the Toronto premiere, he told us I that selecting the supporting cast — an incredibly diverse group that includes Canadians Grace Lynn Kung, Al Mukadam, Raoul Bhaneja, Ennis Esmer and Sergio Di Zio — came naturally.
“A substantial number of parts in this film are played by Canadians. That was in no way a compromise or a means of convenience. I believe [they] will come to a wider recognition because of it, and I’m thrilled about that. You know, it's a paradox because the film is Jessica’s film, she's the front character, she's in every scene, but she's also... a part of the ensemble in this film, the ensemble is crucial. The performances are fantastic.”
However, as much fun as it is to watch Jessica orchestrate her own attempt at winning a David vs. Goliath battle, the movie leaves you wanting to know more about her origin story and why she chose to adopt and maintain her cold, hard exterior as her body begins to rebel against her. It’s a little too clinical but it will likely earn her Jessica her fourth Golden Globe nomination on Monday, as it should.
Here is Jessica out in New York earlier this week and Gugu at the GQ Men Of The Year party last night.