‘Miss Sloane’: Jessica Chastain portrays ruthless DC lobbyist

French-American political thriller explores fictionalized lobbying efforts geared to support Congressional passage of a controversial gun control bill.

Jessica Chastain stars as the title character in "Miss Sloan." (PR still, Europa Corp., distributors)

WASHINGTON, December 10, 2016 — In her new film “Miss Sloane,” Jessica Chastain delivers a powerful performance as Washington lobbyist. The French-American political thriller dives deep into the lobbying efforts behind the passage of a controversial gun control bill. Throughout the film, according to the New York Times, Chastain’s Sloane declares lobbying is all about “foresight” involving the anticipation of “an opponent’s next move and calculating your response ahead of time so that nothing takes you by surprise.”

“Miss Sloane” film is directed by John Madden, best known for directing Shakespeare in Love. It’s his second project with Chastain and boasts an all-star cast, which includes Sam Waterston as well as Lithgow.

The story jumps back and forwards in time, as we follow Sloane testifying before a Senate subcommittee led by power hungry Congressman Ron M. Sperling (John Lithgow). Part of the plotline involves breaking ethical rules after arranging a political junket for a senator to visit Indonesia that’s being disguised as an educational trip.

The tone of the film’s crucial hearing is so dark that it feels as if it were drawn from the still-recent and still controversial Benghazi hearings featured Hillary Clinton defending her conduct as Secretary of State.

Notably, the fictional Sloane invoking the Fifth Amendment multiple times. Yet perhaps guilt is too large a burden for her to carry, for after the committee finishes questioning her, Sloane suddenly snaps and speaks out candidly, incriminating herself and immediately opens herself up to contempt charges.

Madden creates a film that paints the lobbying industry with a dark brush, encouraging the audience to question whether the lobbyists are trying to help the American people or simply striving to advance their personal careers, taxpayers be damned.

Penned by Jonathan Perera, the script paints Sloane as a master manipulator of individuals and politicians, dedicated to winning at any cost, even to the point of betraying her closest confidant, Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a victim of gun violence, by forcing Esme to tell the media her harrowing story.

Madden’s film draws the audience into the darkness of a Washington political underground filled with corruption, power hungry characters, employing the device of a highly divisive issue (gun control) and a well-crafted plotline to get there. Madden succeeds in capturing the drabness of standard-issue Federal office buildings and nameless bureaucrats, contrasting this with the endless thirst for success that drives Jessica Chastain’s central character.

Thus far, “Miss Sloane” has attracted fairly positive critical reviews. Wikipedia notes

“On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 68%, based on 100 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, ‘Miss Sloane’ sits squarely on the shoulder’s of Jessica Chastain’s performance – and she responds with awards-worthy work that single-handedly elevates the film.”

On the other hand, much of this movie revolves around the entertainment community’s ritually knee-jerk hostility to both the 2nd Amendment and the NRA, as Kyle Smith duly notes in the New York Post:

“Heavy-handed message movies don’t come more harrumphing than “Miss Sloane,” a clunky dramatization of the gun-control argument liberals still don’t understand is being conducted solely among themselves.

“Jessica Chastain plays a DC lobbyist working to push a bill, aimed at defining and restricting ‘assault rifles,’ that even the filmmakers ultimately concede is meaningless.”

Conclusion: “Miss Sloane” will appeal to liberals who are already with the program. Everyone else should travel at their own risk.

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