Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. France/USA, 2016. Transfilm, Archery Pictures, Canal+ Distribution, Cine+, FilmNation Entertainment, France 2 Cinema, France Télévisions Distribution. Screenplay by Jonathan Perera. Cinematography by Sebastian Blenkov. Produced by Ben Browning, Kris Thykier, Ariel Zeitoun. Music by Max Richter. Production Design by Matthew Davies. Costume Design by Georgina Yarhi. Film Editing by Alexander Berner. Golden Globe Awards 2016. Washington Film Critics Awards 2016.
Political lobbying is a cutthroat business in Washington, a job that involves winning at all costs and Jessica Chastain is proud doing just that with impressive consistency. When the firm she works for is approached to help defeat a gun bill that would add reasonable restrictions for potential buyers of firearms, she balks at the immorality of her potential client and quits the firm, defecting to a rival and heading up the fight to make sure the legislation passes. What proceeds is an increasingly tense game of sly tricks as Chastain’s no-nonsense attitude sees every move her opponents make before they make them, but how long before one of the most powerful lobbies in the country catches up with her? Her opponents’ determination to take her down and exploit her weak links (such as her delightful habit of using rent boys for relief at the end of a long day in the office) yields some pretty scary results when Chastain finds herself being brought up on charges of corruption. A smart and literate script is undone only by a few too many tidy (though not dissatisfying) solutions in the last third and by the fact that, while Chastain is a sturdy and impresive actor, she seems a bit too anxious to make sure we know how tough she can be; watching her make decisions in this movie is fascinating, but it always seems like she’s trying to get her breathy voice under control. This is John Madden’s finest film since Proof and it’s impossible to tear your eyes away for two whole hours.