In late November Sasha Stone and HE’s own Svetlana Cvetko told me they really liked Miss Sloane, largely because it delivered a tough, brassy female-power fantasy that suckered them in — Jessica Chastain as a D.C. lobbyist with menacing dialogue, a superior chess-playing mind, balls of steel and a killer wardrobe. And so I allowed myself to think this might turn into something — women rallying around a James Bondian superbitch — a take-no-prisoners samurai who does end-runs around opponents and leaves welts on men’s asses.
I actually didn’t think Miss Sloane was good enough to be a hit. I knew it was “very plotty, very Aaron Sorkin-esque, very Newsroomy,” as I wrote in my 11.13 review. I knew that it lacked oxygen, that it wasn’t emotionally engaging, that everything Chastain said and did in the film was cutting, slashy, ruthless, icy. And I knew it was “basically a two-hour pilot for a Showtime series about a ruthless but effective superwoman lobbyist who always aces her enemies.”
But maybe, I imagined, this is what the XX-ers might want to see. After all, Sasha and Svetlana liked it, and to me they are windows into the minds and souls of smart, creative, go-getter urbans on the other side of the aisle.
Alas, Miss Sloane has flopped. At the finish of its third weekend and having played in a maximum of 1648 theatres upon opening wide last weekend (12.9), the EuropaCorp release has earned a lousy $2,869,636 domestic and $3.2 million worldwide. Finished. No current. A dead flounder on the beach.
Last weekend Toronto Globe & Mail critic Kate Taylor wrote the following: “As played by Jessica Chastain with an icy blast so chilling you half expect her supporting cast to turn up wearing fur, ace lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane is superior, sarcastic and unfeeling.
“In [this] political thriller written by newcomer Jonathan Perera and directed by veteran John Madden, the effect is so overwrought it’s almost laughable. Elizabeth Sloane is not merely more ruthless than any man in Washington, she is also scrubbed of any obvious humanity; she knows no morals nor humor and finds her own appetites inconvenient. She spends her days spying on her rivals, besting her colleagues and barking at her juniors before shovelling down dinner in a Chinese dive and mounting a male escort in a swank hotel.”
Why the film wasn’t called Ms. Sloane is beyond me. The title sounded patronizing from the get-go.