Monday, 30 January 2017

REVIEW - MISS SLOANE (JOHN MADDEN)


The pitfalls of propagandistic filmmaking loom large over Miss Sloane, bearing down upon it with a force that its makers must surely have hoped was directed elsewhere. Were it not for the procedural narrative's innate, engaging sense of drive, and a compelling lead turn, this entire enterprise would crumble. Writer Jonathan Perera's heart is in the right place, but his goal of fusing that heartfelt passion with the cool cerebrality of a political thriller is one of only suspect possibility, and neither he nor director John Madden have the skill to achieve it. Miss Sloane is blighted by baffling errors, each presumably made as a concession to the development of plot and the eventual arrival at a particular conclusion. Never mind the implausibility of such a neat outcome - this is propaganda, after all - it's the liberties taken en route that dilute the impact of Miss Sloane's message, and the character inconsistencies in the protagonist, perhaps devised to make this figure more palatable to a broader audience, that undermine the application of that message. Jessica Chastain perseveres through this silly stew of muddled intentions, wholly unable to invest any semblance of legitimate earnestness in either character or scenario, but dogged enough to hold our interest and perhaps elicit our concern. With her, we weather Miss Sloane's easy, familiar plotting and the basic satisfaction that it offers - a film always moving forward is a good thing in itself, regardless of its intended destination. Such films have this quality on which to fall back, though few should ever need to; this is one that, unfortunately, does need to, and it's a sorry fall to see.