Miss Sloane

Dec 12, 2016

Lobbying as romantic? Not so much.

Miss Sloane

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: B

Director: John Madden (Shakespeare in Love)

Screenplay: Jonathan Perera

Cast: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), John Lithgow (The Accountant)

Rating: R

Runtime: 2 hr 12 min

by John DeSando

“I have had lobbyists, and I have had some very good ones. They could do anything.” Donald Trump

Miss Sloane is about dirty tricks from lobbyists to senators and a whole bunch of questionable in between.  Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a super lobbyist joining an anti-gun movement in order to help the cause and her career. The beauty is that her motivations and her means are arguable given her ruthless reputation.

Director John Madden and first-time writer Jonathan Perera entertainingly guide us through a labyrinth of lies to give a feel for the complicated world of lobbying.  But this time it’s the women who are doing the heavy lifting from lower-echelon operative Jane Malloy (Alison Pill) to crucial advisor and eventual linchpin for the gun law lobby, Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), to Elizabeth herself.

While the film has a generous dose of thriller tropes, the story seems fresh and informative about the lobbying industry. In fact, the arguments pro and con about the second amendment are as good sometimes as an Ivy League debate. And besides that intellectual feast is the very contemporary issue of trust in the government.

Distrust is most evident in a Senate hearing attempting to expose Elizabeth’s illegal tactics.  Her 5th amendment responses to questioning have a familiar, McCarthy-Hearings ring, playing to the Redscare of mid-century America.

The film is rapid fire, especially with its enjoyable repartee in more than one place.  All goes well for the filmmakers until the  absurd ending, a fantasy not wholly fitting for a film rooted in reality. Yet, like the four years to come for us, it is entertaining and instructive as long as no one gets hurt. 

Now no one really is harmed by a movie, but as for real time politics, we’ll sure see.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at