Directed by: John Madden
Written By: Jonathan Perera
Produced by: Ben Browning, Kris Thykier
Executive Producers: Claude Leger, Jonathan Vanger, Patrick Chu
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston and John Lithgow.
A perfectly layered political drama/thriller that plays out like an intricate game of chess.
As the character, Miss Sloane (Jessica Chastain, two-time Academy Award nominee) says, ‘Lobbying is about foresight, about anticipating your opponent’s moves and devising countermeasures. The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition. It’s about making sure you surprise them and they don’t surprise you’.
Miss Sloane is a fast-paced film as the audience is taken along with the calculating mind of Sloane. And what an amazing complicated character to watch: her ambition, misdirection, suspicion, lack of moral code; she’s portrayed as a sociopath and to watch this brilliant relentless mind at work is fascinating.
The film opens as Sloane’s held to account in front of a congressional hearing regarding her code of conduct and ethical standards. Then flashes back to what led her to the ultimate confrontation: pushing to pass a Bill requiring the background check of those wanting to buy firearms. Translating to: Miss Sloane versus the Gun Lobbyists.
In the supporting cast, there’s the well-known faces of Mark Strong as the CEO of the boutique firm she joins to fight for the Bill, and Sam Waterston as George Dupont: head of an old-school lobbying firm where she earned her name as one of the most cutthroat lobbyists around, willing to do anything to win.
It’s hard not to think back to Law & Order when seeing Sam Waterston. He plays the lobbyist so well but as a twist, he’s the bad guy here.
Screenwriter Jonathan Perera has had his first script translated to the big screen by director John Madden. And what a pleasure it must have been pulling so many layers together into the glorious satisfying end. When I say layers, there’s a lot going on here but the delicate touch of Madden let the story keep its own pace, with each move a further step towards a reveal you don’t see coming.
Perera was a U.K.-educated attorney who left his practice to write, his background adding an authenticity and edge to those cat-and-mouse games shown so well in this film. But there’s also the revelation of how the whole lobbying business works in American politics. And what it means to take on the power that is the gun lobby group, self-portrayed as the protectors of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Madden and Perera went to great lengths to ensure the accuracy of how lobbying works, consulting a lobbying firm: Glover Park Group.
I admit I was a little lost at the beginning of the film. The character, Miss Sloane’s mind works fast and the audience is expected to keep up with the jargon. My advice is if you don’t follow, let it go. It’s worth keeping up with the film as it runs, and well worth the journey.
What makes the film truly successful is the complicated nature of the character that is Miss Sloane. She’s certainly not the most empathetic woman, but the obsession to win at any cost was somehow relatable: I wanted to be as smart and sophisticated as her. But the film also shows the cost of her success making Miss Sloane strangely likeable.
This is a thoroughly absorbing film because its cleverness is combined with an undercurrent of emotion that’s felt without needing explanation.
Classy and smart all the way – brilliant.