This is a unique, politically important film that is tragically dying at the box office.
Miss Sloane, directed by John Madden, is a diabolically clever film that shines a light on the influence of lobbyists in Washington. The immensely talented Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane, a highly regarded lobbyist who succeeds in part because she has no friends or moral values.
Ms. Sloane leaves her influential lobbying firm when she rejects efforts to help the NRA oppose gun legislation that will require background checks for everyone. She becomes the chief lobbyist for a group fighting to pass this legislation, and she is soon battling her former employers.
Ms. Sloane has but one goal as a lobbyist, and that is to win whatever it takes. Her motto is to save your trump card until after your opponent has played his. She is devious and completely untrustworthy, and she considers nothing off limits as long as she succeeds on behalf of her clients.
Ms. Chastain’s performance is a startling breakthrough for women, as her character has almost always been played by men. Her two principal former employers, wonderfully played by Michael Stuhlbarg and Sam Waterston, seek to find a way to bring her down, but doing battle with the equivalent of a female devil is a nasty business.
Her new employer, played with customary dry passion by Mark Strong, is forced to tolerate her singular dedication to succeeding. Two of her assistants, played with skill and passion by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Alison Pill, will do nearly anything to help win the battle even if that involves being personally betrayed in the end.
As you watch Ms. Chastain appear everywhere in tight outfits and four inch heels, you quickly realize that she has no life outside of the office. She constantly is taking pills to offset the fact that she seldom sleeps, and her sole personal relationship is to pay to have sex with a handsome guy (Jake Lacey)
from an escort service. Even at that, her approach to intercourse is to simply get it over with so that she can pay him and get him out of her condo.
Central to the unfolding plot is the fact that Ms. Chastain is brought before a Senate hearing on allegations of fraud. The Senator leading the charge (John Lithgow) has been forced to do the bidding of the pro-gun lobby if he wants their support for himself and a son seeking office. The exchange that takes place is both fascinating and a bit surprising, and as noted it will remind you of what is going on in Washington today.
As most of you know, it has now been revealed that President Obama sought the cooperation of Congress to confront Russia over its attempt to influence our recent presidential election by hacking Democratic Headquarter’s emails and distributing them to Wikileaks. The Republican Party, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, refused to participate, allowing the activities of Putin’s minions to go unchecked. It has now been revealed that President-elect Trump has appointed Senator McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, to a Cabinet position. Director Madden must be smiling.
The strength of this captivating film comes from the fact that Ms. Sloane is not a heroine. She plays by no rules other than to win in the end. Yes, it helps when she is advocating for a meaningful cause, but to her it really doesn’t matter.
Ms. Sloane knows that money talks in Washington and Congressional leaders will listen. Sad but true, on film and off.