Rated R

132 Minutes

Released November 25th

Miss Sloane is a compelling “edge of your seat” character study and psychological/ legal thriller in which the good guys aren’t all good, the bad guys aren’t all bad. The story is very well written. The young first-time screenwriter Jonathan Perera, writes from instinct and from his own experience. He is a British writer with a similar dialogue command to that of Aaron Sorkin – he has the ability to make the language dance, to set up the game and send the game pieces flying in directions not always expected. He creates compassionate characters who are flawed, yet you care about them. Of course none of this would be possible without superb casting and admirable acting by the whole cast, beautifully timed editing and pitch perfect cinematography. The end result is an all-around gripping film experience and a lesson in our potential flaws as humans that we must guard against while grasping for a sense of morality. There are lessons in this movie on many levels. However you don’t realize that you learned a lesson until the “game” is over and you can stop to think about it.

Every character is believable. Jessica Chastain completely embodies her character, “Elizabeth Sloane”. Director Madden had Chastain in mind for the role as soon as he read the script. He had previously directed her in The Debt in 2010. Chastain explained in the Q&A following the screening that she did preparation for the role by shadowing real female lobbyists in Washington DC (very few are female). One note that she picked up was that several of them wore black nail polish. Chastain used that detail effectively – it conveyed a trove of detail about her character’s personality and tactics. Supporting cast members are also excellent: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Lithgow, Alison Pill, Sam Waterston and Jake Lacey stand out.

Again, the first time screenwriter Perera noted that being from England allowed him to set his story in the world of Washington DC politics without preconceptions.  He dove into that world with an open mind.  He had two years experience working in a law office while paying off his school debts.  That allowed him to study his colleagues carefully to learn their mindset and rhythm of speech, their verbal shorthand and rapid banter, which he was able to translate believably to American lobbyists. At the time that he was marketing the script, Perera was living in South Korea, so he solicited his screenplay to industry reps online. In the Q&A following the screening, Madden explained that he closely followed Perera’s script, with only minor tweaking.

Make sure your mind is in top gear and that you are well awake going into this film as it moves rapidly. The characters become game pieces in an elaborate human chess match. As the main character says, your plan should always be to have a winning game piece in your pocket ready to make a surprise play AFTER your opponent has played what they think is their end game.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com