Review / ‘Miss Sloane’ (M) ****

ELIZABETH Sloane, a loner who runs on pills and pays a rent-a-boy to satisfy her carnal urges, has a fierce reputation as a Washington lobbyist.

Jonathan Perera’s debut screenplay is a far cry from English director John Madden’s previous work – think “Shakespeare in Love” or “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.

“Miss Sloane” is a thriller without car chases, punch-ups, blazing gunfire or dead bodies – well, only one shooter brought down by a right-minded citizen with a gun. Sloane’s employer is committed to run a campaign to kill a Bill soon to come before Congress to modify America’s gun laws. A rival firm hires her to rally enough support to block a filibuster when the Bill comes in.

Jessica Chastain is spectacular as Elizabeth. English actor Mark Strong breaks with his traditional heavy style to play Schmidt, her new boss. John Lithgow sits as chairman of the House committee hearing that will decide the fate of the Bill. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the lawyer whom Elizabeth poaches as she leaves the firm run by Dupont (Sam Waterston).

Perera has captured the procedural, juridical and political elements of the US legislative environment in entertaining detail. In its first month there, it took only about 25 per cent of its reported budget. It was shot in Toronto, suggesting that its producers wished to avoid recriminations on its home turf. It was earlier reported that Steven Spielberg had his eye on the script before John Madden got the gig. If true, that says much in favour of its 132 minutes of narrative tension of the best kind.

At Dendy, Palace Electric and Capitol 6

 

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