Of all the Oscar hopefuls for which critic screenings were scheduled before Thanksgiving, my favorite is without a doubt Miss Sloane. In it, Jessica Chastain stars as fictional Washington D.C. lobbyist, Elizabeth Sloane, a ruthless woman who will stop at nothing to win in the insane game of politics. This particular story is framed within the topic of gun control, pitting Sloane and her team against powerful right wing 2nd Amendment defenders.
One of the beautiful contradictions in the movie is that there’s not really a good guy. Sloane is extremely unlikeable; her methods are morally abhorrent. It doesn’t make her right just because she’s on the right side of the issue (in my opinion). She may, however, be less evil than her opponent, the giant firm from which she quits so she can go work for the underdog. In fact, I’m not sure who’s the most evil person or entity in the movie. Everyone is corrupt.
Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is the most innocent character in Miss Sloane. If it tells you anything about the movie, though, the most innocent character becomes its biggest victim. I’m inclined to also say that Sloane’s boss, Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong) is innocent; however, while he’s appalled by Sloane’s actions, he never really stops her from taking them.
Every minute of Miss Sloane‘s 132-minute running time is enthralling. The script by first-timer, Jonathan Perera, is reminiscent of The West Wing or The Newsroom, without Aaron Sorkin’s lightning fast banter. Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, The Debt), the movie clips along, not due to its action, but because of the complex drama of it. The movie, and the story it contains, is a giant chess game that is always one step ahead of you.