7:30 PM, 28th April, 2017
In the high stakes world of political power brokers, Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) is the best in the business. As cunning as she is unbeatable, Sloane is the most formidable lobbyist in Washington D.C. and one who will do whatever it takes to win – even if it means breaking the rules to do so.
But when the head of a powerful gun lobby makes Sloane a lucrative offer to convince women to oppose a bill imposing new regulations on the sale of firearms, she suddenly finds herself in a crisis of conscience. In a surprising about-face Sloane rejects the offer, resigns from her prestigious firm and takes up a job at a scrappy little outfit on the other side of the fence. For once in her life, Sloane has a cause to fight for that she actually believes in and is willing to risk everything that she’s worked for to defend it. But could winning come at too high a price?
If anything, Miss Sloane is a prime showcase for the talents of the chameleonic Jessica Chastain. She immerses herself in the role of the iron-willed, ice-cold Sloane, and still manages to imbue the character with a dash of melancholy to avoid veering into fem-bot territory. It’s a firecracker of a performance, and one that elevates this unpredictable political thriller beyond its John Grisham Lite narrative. So if you like your power politics with a dash of theatricality and rapid-fire Aaron Sorkin-esque dialogue, be sure to make a date to see Miss Sloane.
9:52 PM, 28th April, 2017
Southside With You tells the based-loosely-on-fact story of the first long afternoon into evening date of a lowly intern in a Chicago legal firm with one of that firm’s lawyers, as he attempts to win her over from cold colleague to future wife. Spoiler alert: he is successful, and the two will go on to become President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama.
And that’s really all there is to it, as plot goes. This is a character study, a wonderfully written film which through lengthy conversations explores romance, race, culture and two extraordinary individuals. The lead performances by Sawyers and Sumpter, which the film hangs so heavily upon, are extremely good – capturing the essence of the Obamas without becoming a caricature.
Comparisons have been made with Before Sunrise, and there are certainly similarities as we see the tender birth of a relationship. Unfortunately the restrictions imposed on the filmmakers by the well known reality of their two lead characters confines the film – while the nudges and nods to their future are fun, it does remove a lot of the tension. What we are left with is a loving, happy and ultimately satisfying homage to romance, and to the enduring legacy of the Obamas.