Miss Sloane is an interesting film to categorize, being equal parts political thriller, drama, and mystery. Regardless of what you classify it as, it definitely excels in it’s presentation and commentary on how the lobbying system works in America, and what it takes to be a “nasty woman” (the advanced screening I participated in really drove this tag line home). “Nasty Woman” being no doubt a jab at our President Elect Trump’s comments about Hillary Clinton during the election season. It seems that this insult is being taken with pride and used as a rally for women to become more politically active. Miss Sloane fits right in with this sentiment, as she is not only one of the fiercest political characters I’ve seen on screen, but also one of the most effective, but I’ll get into that in a moment.
Starring as Miss Elizabeth Sloane is Jessica Chastain, who, in my opinion, better get nominated for this role. The character of Miss Sloane is one of DC’s most notorious lobbyists, who has earned one hell of a reputation for being the best at what she does. During her opening monologue we hear her discussing what it takes to be a lobbyist, and to paraphrase her statement, it boils down to two main things. First, you must never be surprised by what your opponent brings to the table, while keeping them surprised with your efforts. And secondly, you must know when your opponent will use their trump card – and after they do, you play yours.
These two rules are not only at the core of being a lobbyist, but also at the core of what this movie aims to do. Throughout the film, we witness Miss Sloane take on one of the most wealthy organizations on the hill (the gun lobbyists) in an effort to get a bill passed that will require background checks on sales of all guns. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In the words of one of her coworkers, their goal shouldn’t be to win, but to lose a little less, so that the next time they have this fight, they can lose a little less, until one day they can win. But Sloane is in it to win.
In an endless uphill battle to get politicians to back their bill, the audience gets a peek at what lobbying really is. Sloane and her team employ a whole slew of tactics to get politicians on their side, and throughout the story, we see very small hints and suggestions where things can turn out disastrously for the team. This is the key to what makes this movie so great. At least half a dozen times throughout the film I thought to myself that “that was important”. Each of these times I felt like I knew what would come of a certain interaction or decision by a character, and, while I was sometimes right, Sloane was always two steps ahead. In fact, throughout the film, you never seem to be on the same page with her character. Just like she does in her job, she does to us as an audience – she holds her cards and aligns everything up her way. Add to this the fact that her former employer has it out to discredit her and her team by bring an inquisition upon her and the challenges she faces appear wholly insurmountable.
Apart from Chastain who absolutely shined as Sloane, this movie also stars Alison Pill and Sam Waterton, who you will recognize from The Newsroom, Mark Strong, and John Lithgow. The entire cast did a fantastic job, but I’d like to call out Sam Waterton here. It was heartbreaking seeing Charlie Skinner from The Newsroom play such a ruthless asshole of a business man. But that is just to say that he played his role so well that it hurt.
Overall, this movie is intense, mysterious, and surprising, throughout the entire film. The character of Elizabeth Sloane is at times contemptible, scary, inspiring, and tragic, and Jessica Chastain absolutely knocks it out the park. Go see this one.