Miss Sloane (Chastain) is a leading lobbyist in DC. She has a reputation for ruthlessness and being an operator who is always two steps ahead of the opposition. As the movie begins, we discover she has taken a wrong turn somewhere and is now under investigation for bribery and corruption. How this came to pass is told in flashback.
We follow her through the months of intense lobbying around the Heaton-Harris gun control bill. Elizabeth Sloane is consulting for an anti-gun client, much to the surprise of her colleagues. The client and the cause seem wrong. In fact, the woman who has never shown the least interest in causes, suddenly seems to be on the side of principle rather than money and no one can understand why. Elizabeth and her team know they need 60 votes to pass the Heaton-Harris bill. Twenty-two senators are not in the bag for either side. Elizabeth pulls every trick in the book to get those votes. We wonder which one of these tactics ends up putting her in front of the congressional hearing.
Lobbyists are hired political advocates who argue for or against particular pieces of legislation on behalf of the special interests who employ them. Their presence and influence in modern American politics is controversial. Interestingly, despite the work they do at the behest of powerful groups, lobbyists are rarely the focus of political movies. Perhaps we prefer the idea that politicians make their decisions free from influence.
MISS SLOANE is a strange hybrid of a movie. It seems to be aimed at an audience who craves the legal and ethical drama of a MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007) combined with the grifting fun of a FOCUS (2015); or an episode of television’s The West Wing meets the Now You See Me franchise
That Aaron Sorkinesque feeling is reinforced by several scenes of characters doing walk and talks (technically known as “pedeconferences”) and by the presence of a couple of Newsroom alums in Alison Pill and Sam Waterston. However the dialogue is not of the standard one would expect of a Sorkin production.
The screenplay by first-timer Jonathan Perrera is adequate, but ultimately pushes past believably. Director John Madden (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE-1998) elicits good performances from the talented cast including Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark Strong. However, this is a vehicle for Jessica Chastain and for the most part, she rises to the occasion.
MISS SLOANE has an interesting premise to begin with, a solid central performance, but is simply not credible by its conclusion. An entertaining fantasy set in the real world of U.S. politics. 132 minutes (6/10).