Movies

Movie Review: Miss Sloane

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“Lobbying is about foresight and anticipating your opponent’s moves and plotting countermeasures.”

Nothing gets Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain; “The Martian,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Debt“)  up in the morning than strategizing, plotting down tactics and winning.  That is, if she sleeps at all.  Insomniac and pill-popping Elizabeth is a top lobbyist everyone loves to hate or hates to love.  She’s not a sympathetic character, but she gets results.

Elizabeth stuns her supervisor and head of a premier lobbying firm, George Dupont (Sam Waterson), and colleague Pat Connors (Michael Stuhlbarg; “Doctor Strange,” “Trumbo,” “Pawn Sacrifice“), when she unceremoniously rejects NRA’s campaign proposal to bring over more women’s votes for guns.

Elizabeth quits and takes her team to an underdog firm helmed by Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong; “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “The Imitation Game“), to lead a campaign on behalf of a nonprofit group to implement a universal background check for gun sales.  Rodolfo recruited her earlier based on her go-getter reputation, although he regretfully realizes that such acclaim might not have been achieved without some questionable schemes.

Hardheartedly ambitious and cunning to the bone, polishedly put-together Elizabeth is a constant presence among Washington, D.C.  movers and shakers, moving and shaking things on behalf of her clients.  Behind the scene and in front of the camera, she skillfully shapes public opinions and influences legislators to pass or defeat proposed legislations by all means necessary.

And by all means necessary means exactly that.  The two women in Elizabeth’s crosshairs are former mentee Jane Molloy (Alison Pill) and current colleague Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).  Jane has her seemingly clear reasons to stay put with Elizabeth’s previous firm.  Esme has something that may be fair game for Elizabeth’s ride towards winning.

No line is too far to cross, as long as it will put her on the triumphant side when all is said and done. She steamrolls and sacrifices anyone who gets between her and her end-goal.  And this time, her career, and freedom, are at risk.  She is facing a congressional hearing, led by Congressman Ron Sperling (John Lithgow, “Interstellar“), due to alleged improprieties of her conduct.

It may be easy to dismiss “Miss Sloane” as a gun control propaganda.  It’s not.  It’s really a story about the inner workings of D.C. power brokers, how the rich and powerful individuals and organizations pressure and manipulate policy makers, and how positions are lobbied and bought.  Our system may be a democracy and we may elect our representatives, but our representatives may not necessarily act in the best of our interest.

Would you vote for or against a cause based on your conscience, because you believe it’s the right to do, if it would cost you your career and future?  On the other hand, at what price would you be willing to pay if it is to win your cause?  What about moral or ethical considerations when it comes to exploiting other people for the benefit of your cause?

Written and styled like an Aaron Sorkin’s film, by director John Madden and writer Jonathan Perera, “Miss Sloane” crackles with force and is carried through a ferocious performance by Chastain.  Fervently captivating, she owns every frame she is in.

The political blather, rapidly edited and delivered fast, may not be easiest to digest, but really pay attention to Elizabeth’s words.  There are inconspicuous hints from the very beginning that lead to a surprisingly satisfying payoff.

Amidst adaptations, remakes, prequels and sequels, political thrillers (“Argo,” “The Ides of March“) are hard to come by these days.  “Miss Sloane” is a well-played  political chess game.

Copyright (c) 2016.  Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

Nathalia Aryani

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic (rottentomatoes.com/critic/nathalia-aryani). She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

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