Miss Sloane review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Gun violence is the issue in Miss Sloane, but not the issue of the script. Similar to the storytelling of House of Cards, this is a picture that’s more about the deceptive tactics of lobbyists that battle against each other to make sure a bill goes through or dies on the floor. The most powerful player in this arena is the titular character, willing to do whatever it takes to win. She’s a nasty woman, implied by the accompanying hashtag for the social media campaign, but perhaps not nasty enough to sell the disgusting world of lobbying politics.
Jessica Chastain plays Miss Sloane with enough power for this role and then some, even around the likes of Mark Strong and John Lithgow. As the top dog lobbyist, she snarks at any co-worker not giving 110% and barks at anyone standing in her way. With her dark dresses, high-heels and loud lipstick, it’s hard to take your eyes off her as well. She’s so confident in her abilities that when the firm she works for wants to pursue the gun lobby to shut down a gun taxation bill, she can both laugh and leave the firm for another group. Taking a handful of her followers with her, she sets about on her new campaign to shut down to tout a gun bill by roping as many congressmen as she can into her fold by any means necessary. Hiring actors, staging events and agreeing to secret surveillance are not considered immoral in her book, even if they’re considered illegal in other books.
Sloane is a nasty woman, but the movie feels the need to pull her back from the inky abyss, almost as if it’s afraid we’ll hate this character. She has problems with insomnia that she not only refuses to fix, but placates with pep pills to continue working into the late night hours. Her additional addiction includes male hookers, hoping to feel a little something in her soul after hours. I don’t blame her for this vice considering Sloane doesn’t have much any life outside of work. The most we get to see of her when not concocting political strategies or verbally assaulting her way to the top is eating Chinese food and reading a John Grisham novel. I’m not entirely convinced she enjoys Grisham novels either since she’s later seen reading a medical book which was only so she could find another actor for her schemes.
I wanted Sloane to be much more cutthroat considering how many twists she can pull out of her behind when it is oh-so-convenient. I especially wanted her to be more evil when the movie makes itself clear that she has no personal gain in this fight. Several people ask if she has a history with gun violence, but she declines to answer and the subject is never brought up again. She weeps for losing those around her by deceiving her more friendly co-workers for political means, but, again, this all appears to be part of her plan. How much of her “pain” is real and how much of it is staged to trap her opponents? Nobody knows until she displays her hand in one of the most left-field twists of a finale.
There’s lots of political drama in several scenes with conspiring forces, but scenes such as Sloane and a male hooker getting it on are treated more as a romantic comedy. Much like Sloane herself, this is a movie that never decides to settle on one tone. A bit of a shame when you consider that Sloane is stronger when she’s smugly toasting a victory martini for fooling her opposition than tearfully pleading to feel something. Why is the movie so afraid to make Sloane the ultimate lobbying villain? It’s a role she fits more perfectly into than a woman who can’t decide if she’s breaking down or pretending she’s breaking down. Be nastier, woman!