03 Mar 2017
in Book Review
Tags: absorbing performance, advocate, ambitious lobbyist, ambitious woman, complicated character, corrupt system, determined, elizabeth sloane, exposé of a corrupt system, expose, film, films, flashbacks, formidable, formidable lobbyist, gugu mbatha-raw, gun control bill, icy lobbyist, icy woman, Jack Lacy, jessica chastain, john lithgow, john madden, Jonathan Perera, lobbyist, Mark Strong, miss sloane, motives, movie, movies, not likeable, political, power, power plays, pubic humiliation, review, reviews, slights of hand, steel eyed performance, steely-eyed performance, strong woman, the states, tragicomedy, turns, twists, u.s., united states, zero dark thirty actress
Miss Sloane could be renamed, “Ms Stone.” The film is about an ambitious and icy woman who acts as a lobbyist for a firm that is advocating on behalf of a gun control bill in the States. It’s a tense, political drama with as many power-plays, twists, turns and slights of hand as The Ides of March.
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) stars as the titular character and really carries this film. She is the ruthless Elizabeth Sloane, a woman who survives on a diet of amphetamines, power, the company of male escorts and cheap Chinese food. Sloane is not a likeable character by any stretch but Chastain gives such an absorbing performance that it is hard for us to turn away.
We meet Miss Sloane as she prepares to plead the Fifth Amendment at a senate ethics hearing. The film then tells her story through a series of flashbacks. It shows how she earned a reputation as a formidable, world-class lobbyist and how she defected from a large agency who won a contract from the gun lobby in order to work at a small boutique firm who were advocating for a gun control bill.
Sloane is a complicated character. She enjoys 3am phone calls to her underlings and the public humiliation of people. She also has no qualms spying on her colleagues and competitors, selling out rats and milking the bleeding heart vote by exposing a colleague (Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion)) as the former victim of a high school-shooting. Yet when Sloane defects from her pro-gun agency to the one supporting gun control, there are at least some questions regarding her motives and whether she is taking a moral stance. Another big question is whether Sloane’s over-confidence and cockiness will mean she misses some important fact or find herself exposed to a blind spot or two.
This film is written by first-time screenwriter, Jonathan Perera and directed by John Madden (this is a serious departure in tone from his previous films, Shakespeare in Love and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.) The supporting cast features Jack Lacy, Mark Strong and John Lithgow who put in rather able performances but are eclipsed by the dynamo work from Chastain. Miss Sloane is quite an eye-opening and detailed political tragicomedy and an exposé of a corrupt system and its steely-eyed and determined participants. This film is ultimately a wild ride with the big boys and one strong woman and a game you can’t help but find yourself getting lost in for the most part.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Originally published on 01 March 2017 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-miss-sloane-usa-2016-proves-a-strong-woman-can-play-with-the-big-boys/
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21 Jun 2015
in DVD Review
Tags: 2012, adaptation, autobiography, biography, cheryl strayed, childhood, desert, dvd, dvds, flashbacks, great outdoors, gruelling, handycams, hiking, independent woman, Jean-Marc Vallée, journey, laura dern, love, memoir, mexican border to canadian border, nick hornby, pacific crest trail, panoramas, punishing, reese witherspoon, reflection, review, reviews, self-discovery, strong woman, to find herself, trail, trek, united states, walk, wild, wilderness, Yves Bélanger
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and so too does a journey of 1770 kilometres and one through a path of self-discovery. The latter is also known as Wild or a film that has been adapted from Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir from 2012. One things for certain, this journey is definitely worth the ride.
The film is adapted by Nick Hornby (About A Boy) and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, The Young Victoria) who does an excellent job of getting the best performances from his actors. Academy Award recipient, Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line) stars as Cheryl Strayed and entertains us with her most dramatic role to date. In Wild, her character is a woman who was on a downward spiral into self-destruction (think promiscuity, heroine abuse, lying and divorce) and she makes a rash decision to go hiking in order to find herself.
The hike was of the Pacific Crest Trail and the section that stretches from the United States border with Mexico to its other border with Canada. It’s a gruelling and punishing trek but it’s also one that appears to be very rewarding. In the film we see Strayed travelling through picturesque panoramas, sitting on top of mountain ledges, crossing streams and snow, experiencing the sweltering heat of the desert and negotiating through some arduous wilderness. Cinematographer, Yves Bélanger does a wonderful job here by leaving the surroundings in their raw, natural state with just the sunlight to illuminate things while handycams capture Witherspoon’s dirty, make-up-free face and monstrous pack.
The story of Wild does not just pass the different signposts of the trail. The audience also gets to learn about Strayed’s history and most importantly, her relationship with her mother (who is played by the gorgeous, Laura Dern). Strayed is grieving the loss of this great love and inspirational woman who succumbed to breast cancer at an early age. The memoires and flashbacks add additional weightiness to a film that was already quite poignant.
Wild is a poetic tour de force that is set in the great outdoors. This hiking tale is seamlessly woven with memories about love and childhood and it has the ability to transform and heal its viewers in a better way than Eat Pray Love did. This authentic and complicated reflection is sumptuous and visceral and will leave you feeling like you’ve walked with the characters every step of the way.
Originally published on 18 June 2015 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/06/18/dvd-review-wild-usa-2014/
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Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/