STARRING: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston, John Lithgow, David Wilson Barnes, Raoul Bhaneja, Chuck Shamata, Douglas Smith, Meghann Fahy, Grace Lynn Kung, Al Mukadam, Noah Robbins, Lucy Owen, Sergio Di Zio, Joe Pingue, Michael Cram, Dylan Baker, Zach Smadu, Austin Strugnell, Alexandra Castillo, Jack Murray, Christine Baranski, Aaron Hale and Greta Onieogou
In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price.
Elizabeth Sloane is one of the most sought-after lobbyists in Washington, D.C. When asked to help oppose a bill that imposes regulations on firearms, Sloane decides to join rival lobbying firm Peterson Wyatt, to lead the effort in support of the bill. Her stance on the bill and determination to win now makes her a target of powerful enemies that threaten not only her career, but those that work with her.
Miss Sloane focuses on Washington lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane, whose sought after by the Gun Lobby to be the face against the purposed Heaton-Harris Bill, which would see background checks for those trying to purchase firearms becoming a requirement if passed. She’s then approached by the Gun Lobby’s opponents, Peterson Wyatt, to have her be the face to pass the bill. Sloane decides to work on the campaign for Peterson Wyatt, which now makes her a target of powerful enemies that threaten not only her career, but those that work with her. Miss Sloane has finally got its cinematic release here, after it had its cinematic release in the US five months prior. With the exception of knowing that the film didn’t perform well at the box office across the states, I didn’t really know much about the film other than what was shown in the first trailer.
First of all I must talk about the screenplay written by Jonathan Perera, whose background leading to his screenwriting debut is very Hollywood-ish. A trained corporate lawyer that ended up teaching English in China and South Korea, where he began working on the script that would be produced two years later and I for one thought that the script was solid for the most part, particularly the Aaron Sorkin-esque dialogue during character interactions. With the majority of the film resting on her shoulders, I thought Jessica Chastain’s performance was brilliant. Elizabeth Sloane is a thunderstorm upon first meeting her, someone that’s so focused on her job and own ambition that she’s lost the ability to communicate with anyone on an emotional level, hinted that with her persona that maybe showing any vulnerability is the biggest sign of weakness she can give. Though gradually as the film progresses and the campaign gets nastier, the mask does slip from time-to-time, particularly when she’s with male escort Forde (played well by Jake Lacy). In terms of supporting cast that stand out in this rather large ensemble, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as per usual provides a memorable performance as Esme Manucharian, Peterson Wyatt’s authority on gun control that Sloane takes a shining to which leads to an interesting develop in not only the arc of the campaign, but their friendship and Sloane’s psyche. There’s also solid performances from Michael Stuhlbarg, Sam Waterston and John Lithgow in small yet key roles.
I thought John Madden’s direction was fine, but there was no scene specifically that stood out for me in terms of how well shot it was. As for Perera’s script, while I mostly liked it, the story is essentially a character study about Elizabeth Sloane rather than the subject matter of gun control and when we come down to the final act we get a twist that is pretty much telegraphed when a certain scene appears halfway through the film and while narratively it works, it still overshadows on the topic of gun control and the Heaton-Harris Bill that had me invested in up to this point. While the film is filled with mostly unlikable characters, with a few of them at least being compelling to watch, I thought Mark Strong’s Rodolfo Schmidt was pretty weak a as a character. The character appears to be someone of principal in this rather the weak get eaten alive environment and seems to constantly question Sloane’s methods, even though he knows of her reputation and lets her run rampant anyway.
I was invested completely into this battle campaign on gun control between two lobbying firms, though as the film progresses me becomes more of a character study of Elizabeth Sloane and that eventually overshadows the points of view on gun control, meaning the film fizzles out at the end. The large ensemble provide solid performances and Jessica Chastain is terrific as Sloane. 8/10