Miss Sloane

I have never seen a movie that made me want to take a shower more than Miss Sloane.

Miss Sloane shone a light on the career of political lobbyists, and that light make them scurry for the shade.  No, really… this movie showed these people as the slimiest and most repugnant people around.  They made them seem considerably worse than members of Congress…I know right?

In fact, there is the typical scene where the lobbyists have members of Congress on each side and they have to swing certain ones over to their side to win a vote.  It was like the scenes in American President with Annette Bening… except with Bening not being the sweetheart she was.  I don’t know if I can watch that scene again without wondering what dirty trick is really going down.

Jessica Chastain played Elizabeth Sloane, one of Washington’s most successful and downright rotten lobbyists around.  When a bill attempting to place restrictions on guns comes to the floor of Congress, Sloane leaves her current company to try to help get the bill passed.  And she does just about whatever she needs to do to make it so.  No line is too far to cross.

Of course, opposing her is the NRA and their own bag of dirty tricks and lobbyists willing to do whatever is necessary to win.  Miss Sloane apparently knows all the dirty tricks because she showed a remarkable ability to anticipate what her opponents were planning and to counter that with her own slimy trick.

There were people shown on Sloane’s side that were not as slimy as Sloane herself.  There is Esme (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who had a good reputation as a knowledgeable worker who had a hidden past with gun violence.  There is Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong) who spear-headed the group trying to get the bill passed and he brought Sloane into the fold.  Some of the other characters on Sloane’s side were interesting, but most of their contributions to the story was to stare, slack-jawed at the things that Sloane would do.

The gun supporting side was basically played off as the heartless villains, but they were still shocked at the lengths stooped to by Sloane.  One of the negative notes of the movie is how the other side was not more positively portrayed.  Gun control does not have to be one side is right, one side is wrong…especially with the lobbyists characters falling so hard into the shades of gray section.

But it is clear that no one is smarter than Miss Sloane, and that is fine, especially since she is such a flawed and downright rotten person.  She is played brilliantly by Jessica Chastain and she makes you root for this awful woman, despite the constant travesties that she engages in.  Chastain showed the human side of this woman, creating someone that could easily have been a caricature.

The film was a little long, but the ending payoff is worth the wait.  Yes, it is unrealistic (No SPOILERS), but it paid off the film in a big way.  Kudos to not only Chastain, but also John Lithgow, who played a senator in charge of a Congressional hearing into Sloane’s business practices.  Their showdown was high drama.

Never once did the fact that Miss Sloane was a powerful woman come into play, and I liked that very much.  This was not a story about a powerful woman taking on the NRA, but a powerful lobbyist doing the same.  It felt as if we had taken a step past identifying her as a woman.  She just was.  That is a great thing.

As I said, the whole story pays off big time, but the suspension of disbelief is remarkably high.  If you cannot accept that, Miss Sloane is going to fall apart for you.  I had no problem with the end, so I really did enjoy the film.  I do wish the pro-gun side would have been less villainized, but I understand why they did it.

Jessica Chastain is excellent and the character of Miss Sloane is an enigmatic woman who wants to win above almost anything else.  She does not need to be seen as a hero.  In fact, she is as dirty as any of them.  However, she is shown as a complex and real person who has reasons for her choices.

Our political system really is messed up.

4 stars

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