review by SAMANTHA MOONEY
Miss Sloane is a tense political thriller from first time screenwriter Jonathan Perera and directed by John Madden ( Shakespeare in Love, The Exotic Marigold Hotel). Madeline Elisabeth Sloane is a ruthless Washington lobbyist, feared, hated and respected by everyone she comes into contact with. Played to steely perfection by Jessica Chastain, who leaves no doubt that to Miss Sloane, winning is everything. In an effectively jarring move, Chastain breaks the fourth wall. Directly addressing the camera, Chastain informs us that lobbying is about 'foresight, about anticipating your opponent’s moves, devising counter measures and playing your trump card right after they play theirs'. This destabilising introduction gives way to the main narrative that recounts the circumstances that led to Sloane being on trial for bribery and corruption.
After turning down a high profile offer from the gun lobby to advance its Second Amendment agenda, that being the 'Right of the people to keep and bear Arms', Sloane leaves her prestigious firm to work for Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong). Schmidt is the head of a small non-profit lobby group trying and continuously failing to get the Brady Bill passed which would ensure background checks for all gun sales. The task seems impossible,with members of congress unwilling to voice an opinion on neither the National Rifle Association nor the Brady Bill. These same members of congress are, all the while, being easily tempted by the money and power of higher positions which only the advocates associated with the advancement of the Second Amendment group can offer. This propels Sloane into action, the thrill of overcoming the impossible, is too tempting to resist.
Plotting and scheming, Elizabeth Sloane uses all of the tricks of the lobbying trade to pass the bill. With no life outside of her lobbying, she eats, sleeps and breaths the task of taking on morally bankrupt political power players. However, no one is better positioned to destroy Sloane than her former colleagues and the film checks off almost every political thriller and heist film convention in a very full on final act.
Despite the contentious issues involved, I don't believe Miss Sloane is a piece of liberal propaganda, but rather a study of character. It thrives off the pleasure and thrill of the political game. Showing the behind the scenes of lobbying and the great lengths these advocates will go to advance a cause, the film reflects this through quick pacing and rapid dialogue. The supporting cast is strong, but it is difficult to take your eyes off the stellar, scene-stealing performance given by the incredible Jessica Chastain.