“Lobbying is about foresight, about anticipating your opponent’s moves, and devising counter measures. The winner walks one step ahead of the opposition. It’s about making sure you surprise them, and they don’t surprise you.”
Miss Sloane, in theaters Friday, sure did surprise me. I had high expectations when I went to the screening, having seen only the excitement-packed, House of Cards and How to Get Away With Murder reminiscent trailer. I love this kind of thing. And it was even better than I had hoped.
Sloane (Chastain) is a powerful lobbyist, seeking to pass a bill that will enforce background checks before purchasing firearms. She is fighting for this bill to pass against the wishes of her old company, a group of people who knows her, has learned how she operates. She must not only persuade the public and senators to support the movement; she must also outsmart the group of conservatives plotting to stop her. She must outsmart herself. Amidst the twists and turns of legal proceedings and flashbacks, there are second-amendment battles, gunmen, a lot of really good-looking Asian food, spy cameras, fabulous clothes, pill-popping, public hearings, and inflatable rats. An admittedly odd combination, but it worked. More than that, actually—it succeeded.
There have been debates over how realistic the bills and legal proceedings in the movie actually are, but it seemed solid to me. (I know very little about gun laws and lobbying, that’s probably why.) The focus did not necessarily seem to be the politics themselves, though. It was more about the plotting that goes on, the back-stabbing and brilliance of the characters. Every character, but in particular, Miss Sloane.
This movie celebrates the strength and power of women in politics. Chastain’s amazing portrayal of this dazzling granite figure also reveals that perhaps she is not “stone cold.” She is humanized; she has struggles, is broken but refuses to show her cracks. At times her personal life and motives were completely confusing, but throughout the film the audience is allowed to realize more and more. No spoilers, obviously, but the end of the movie was extremely well done on taking her as a person into account.
The question of her support for the background check bill Sloane is lobbying for, however, is constantly questioned. Does she want this bill to pass because she wants to stop the conservative, narrow-minded white men like the man who seeks her help and attempts to destroy her when she laughs in his face? Is it because she does have some sort of personal connection that the audience is frustratingly never privy to? (This would have, admittedly, been such a satisfying reveal.) Does she simply thrive under the pressure and challenge, craving an unlikely success? Or is a bigger question of whether there really has to be a motive for such a woman to go to such lengths to support something? Why can’t she just have an opinion and support it, without falling prey to such questioning, like a man would?
The messages of Miss Sloane are powerful and particularly resonant. If you are a fan of politics, exciting twists, action/thrillers, and badass feminists proving everyone wrong, you will love Miss Sloane. Altogether, it is “mind boggling, ingenious, and completely unbelievable”—just like Miss Sloane herself.