With the political climate in this country being what it is right now, it is pretty brave of Hollywood to be releasing a movie saturated with the kind of wheeling and dealing we have come to expect and despise from Washington. However, this flick did more than just expose the ugly side of lobbying our government. It gave you a real and honest look at how we our issues get represented to the people calling the shots and it did so from both sides of the coin. It also managed to do all of this with a bad ass, strong female lead character, Miss Sloane.
Miss Sloane follows the life of a tough as nails lobbyist with a reputation for getting what she wants when it comes to getting bills passed in congress. Sloane is the type of character that we see in the movies all the time; hardened corporate loaner, overly obsessed with work, cold hearted, calculating, and fearless. The thing is, they are all characteristics of typical male characters, especially political types. Sloane, played by Jessica Chastain, brings a sharp and tough presence to the type of isolated figure we usually see from success driven men.
That being said, you could look at her form a few different perspectives, allow me to share mine. As a woman with no desire to get married or have children, the idea of being career or passion driven and abandoning the role of wife and mother, is often looked at as a sacrifice. The idea that we had to give up something that we want or deny that we even want it and all of that is just so sad, to me, is malarkey. Some of us never wanted it, aren’t in denial, and are quite happy having our time belong to ourselves and nobody else. While it is seen as much more of a big deal for a woman to do this, the idea that you would enjoy a life defined by your own wants and needs and not by what mainstream society says we should want and need, is often looked at with sympathy and pity by the married and parental folks. It’s easy to forget in the midst of your domestic bliss that we single, kid free people can actually have meaningful and happy lives.
Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Sloane’s life is meaningful and happy, she is clearly battling some issues, seeing a doctor to help her sleep, being prescribed sleep aids but forgoing them for black market uppers to keep her going, not to mention intimacy issues that hinder her ability to maintain good friendships. However, these are not problems caused by regret of not marrying herself off and settling into family life, it stems from being too obsessed with the job, too obsessed with winning, as she states in the movie. She forgoes sleep and meaningful relationships in pursuit of the win, yet we see no signs of regret or remorse for not following the “normal” path.
While Sloane’s cold nature could possibly be off putting, she pulls it off in a way where she is passionate enough about what she does that as an audience member, you want to see her win. Even though you know damn well she is taking huge risks that are going to blow up in her face, you are with her as she takes them. When they do come back around to bite her in the ass, despite some of the bad choices she has made, you are still rooting for her and cheering her on as she flips it on the people trying to stick it to her.
The movie starts with her working to kill a bill that would prohibit the use of palm oil in American products. Without getting into the pros and cons of this situation, let’s just say it’s a touchy subject for environmental activists worldwide. The firm she works for sets her up in a meeting with a man named Sanford, a staunch 2nd Amendment and NRA supporter, who approaches her about the problem they have with getting the female demographic to support the gun industry. He proposes a plan to head up a female organization with no ties to the NRA, since that seems to be too off putting for women, which would promote self-defense and self-protection in order to give guns a bit more femme appeal. Obviously, Sloane finds this idea laughable and declines the project while pledging to look into the numbers to see what she can come up with. Clearly, this does not sit well with her firm. She receives the directive to get in line with this high end client or find a new place of employment. At a fundraiser later on that evening, she is presented with exactly the opposite type of proposal. She is offered the opportunity to work for an opposing firm, for much less money, in order to lead a team lobbying for a gun control bill. Up until this point, you would’ve guessed she would laugh it off and use it to her own gain but it’s the that we see her add a passionate side to the cold, corporate persona as she goes left when you would expect her to go right, and decides to fight for something she believes in.
Of course, she now has to contend with the people from her old firm, which include her right arm, Jane Malloy played by Alison Pill, an undergrad who was questioning what she was doing at the firm who decides to stay back and not risk her job security and reputation by fighting was is seen as a losing battle. Working so closely with Sloane and knowing her so well, she becomes a huge asset to the team trying to bring down Sloane as she lobbies for votes for a bill that would enforce universal background checks for all gun purchases. The gloves come off and as she states in the opening of the movie, it’s about staying one step ahead of the competition and never letting them surprise you. As we come to a moment in the film where you think she has failed at that, jeopardizing her career and personal freedom as she is brought in for a Senate Hearing for misconduct and unethical practices, you realize that is the sacrifice she was willing to make to fight for what she believes in and yes, she was always one step ahead.
With gun control and gender equality being hot button issues right now, this movie does a great job in slaying misconceptions without ever feeling preachy. The movie is much more of a look at the sacrifices one makes to fight for what they believe in and less of a “gun safety is important” propaganda film. It explores personal relationships, gender dynamics in Congress, and the political system all while keeping you on your toes, maintaining a great pace, getting you invested in the battle for votes, and still being entertaining. That’s more than the 2016 Presidential race had to offer for sure! So while I went in a little reluctant to sit through a 2 hour political drama, I came out happy with how I spent my time and happy to have seen such an independent female character shown in such a real way. Even if you’re in need of a serious break from all the politics during this holiday season, you will still find this to be an enjoyable movie, well worth the price of admission.