Film Review – Miss Sloane
A dramatic political thriller is just what we need to end 2016, right? Miss Sloane is not a documentary, but surely echoes the climate and corruption evident in political offices and lobbying.
Miss Sloane focuses on a three-month period leading up to D.C. lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) being brought in front of the U.S. Senate for an ethics violation. The film begins with Elizabeth speaking straight to the audience on her purpose and reason, which transitions into it really being a meeting with her lawyer, Daniel Posner (David Wilson Barnes). Then the throwback to how she ended up in such a mess begins. The film is essentially about competing lobbying firms trying to lobby their way through to a win (or loss) for a gun bill. What makes it all so interesting is that Elizabeth used to work for the competing lobby firm and left it to try and pass the more restrictive gun bill at another firm. To try to describe the background of Elizabeth’s character, her drive and motivation, as well as the people she leaves in the dust to get this bill passed would honestly take forever. It is enough to say that the character is complex in her motivations and her morals.
Miss Sloane is another feather in Jessica Chastain’s hat. She envelopes the character of Elizabeth well, almost too well. She is great at playing a stone-cold bitch (and I think the character would take that as a compliment). The drive, force, and the way the words are coming out of her mouth are truly remarkable. There are a couple of scenes that I wondered how long it took her to memorize such a scene and how long it took to rehearse. This is very much Jessica Chastain’s film and without her interpretation of Elizabeth, it would not have been such a pleasure to watch unfold.
While Jessica Chastain’s Elizabeth is the center of the film, it would not be as interesting without the cast of characters and the actors who are beside her. You may be a bit taken aback by seeing Sam Waterston play the “bad guy” as George Dupont leading the competition and have Mark Strong playing a “good guy” as Rodolfo Schmidt leading Elizabeth’s lobbying firm. It is going against the typecast of these two actors, and it’s something that improves the originality of the film. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Esme Manucharian is the opposite of Elizabeth and having them playing for the same team makes for some great scenes; the good, moral girl working with one that will do whatever it takes to win. There are a number of actors, many are well-known, playing important roles in this film, and it reminds me of a newspaper scandal type film (for example, Spotlight). Some may not have many lines, but they all play important part of the story and the end-game of Elizabeth.
The film is not without faults. Elizabeth is not a likeable character, so it may not thrill audiences seeing her lay waste to almost everyone she comes into contact with in the film. She is smart, no doubt, but can you root for the unlikeable girl just because she is working for some issue you may like? Rooting may not be the right word since she is not a nice person in any way. The film also tends to drag in the middle and becomes boring. Thankfully, a couple of surprises where they are most needed jolt the audience back into the story.
Miss Sloane will not do anything to make you like politicians and lobbyists any more than you already do, which I am guessing is not a whole lot. It is, however, an interesting backdrop for a thriller. It is worth seeing for the twists in the storyline, the ending, and seeing Jessica Chastain act her ass off for this character. Why not go and loath the political culture of D.C. a little bit more this holiday season?