There was a brief stretch of recent history between 2011 and 2014 where Jessica Chastain stood as one of the most accomplished actresses in the industry. During that time she tallied a pair of Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe win for her role in the Kathryn Bigelow's hunt for Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty. Since then, it's fair to say that Chastain's chosen a few questionable roles. But with John Madden's political lobbying thriller, Miss Sloane, Chastain returns to her previous Oscar-caliber heights.
Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) is the most desirable lobbyist in our nation's capital. And when an influential gun rights supporter seeks her services to sway the female public opinion surrounding an upcoming gun-law vote, Elizabeth Sloane's personal views push her to leave her firm and work on the opposite side of the issue. However, she finally recognizes that winning against the most powerful opponent in Washington will require lofty sacrifices.
In this politically volatile atmosphere where we find ourselves inescapably trapped, there's been an immense push-back against this film. However, Miss Sloane offers a reasonable portrayal of the responsible gun owner versus the emotionally reckless gun owner, both of which exist in our society. Even more important, though, is just how small of a role these identifying factors play to the greater intention of John Madden's intelligent drama. The gun rights issue actually takes a backseat to a larger message regarding the dangers of allowing money in politics and the unjust influences it can have over our elected officials. To help deliver this message, Jessica Chastain shines in her empowering lead role, providing a level of performance we haven't seen from her in a few years. Her exceptional turn supports a heady screenplay which details the mental chess-match between these feuding sides of the issue. But despite the film's fine lead performance and its cleverly concocted script, a bloated running time detracts heavily from its shining qualities. There are many lulls scattered throughout the film but, thankfully, Miss Sloane explodes with a brilliant finale that makes this marathon of a ride completely worth it.