Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Miss Sloane to You
the knock on lobbyists as a professional class is their lack of principles.
They are the worst sort of mercenaries, who will rep any cause if the price is
right. However, when Miss Elizabeth Sloane decides to turn her back on the
corporate work fighting government regulation that she genuinely believes in,
just to prove her mettle passing a Brady-style gun control bill, it is
presented as an act of heroism. Frankly, if you are inclined to pedantry you won’t
get past the first act of John Madden’s smugly self-righteous Miss Sloane (trailer here), which opens today
in New York.
Elizabeth Sloane is supposed to be a throwback to the sort of professional
characters Joan Crawford played back in the day. She is a sharp-dressed,
salty-talking, emasculating woman who thrives in a male-dominated sphere. She
will crusade against a bill she sinisterly dubs the “Nutella tax,” but much to
her boss’s surprise, she actually believes in more firearm regulation, more or
less. After belittling her firm’s new gun rights client, Miss Elizabeth Sloane
up and leaves, taking most of the junior staff with her to the “boutique”
lobbying firm (code for liberal) founded by earnest do-gooder Rodolfo Schmidt
(even she makes fun of that name).
pass their bill, Miss Elizabeth Sloane’s team will need sixty votes to overcome
a possible filibuster. Of course, they have a fraction of that. However, Miss
Elizabeth Sloane will use her former firm’s tactics against them. Her ethics
are atrocious, but Schmidt is impressed with her results. Yet, he will draw the
line when she coolly and calculatingly exploits the personal history of Esme
Manucharian, a junior associate at the firm, who survived a school shooting in
her teen years.
you want an example of the “bubble” Saturday
Night Live suggested American liberals live in, Miss Sloane would be exhibit A. It is highly doubtful Madden and
screenwriter Jonathan Perera has ever talked to a gun owner or Second Amendment
activist. (If they are just a gaggle of stupid jowly men, why do they keep winning?)
Indeed, the film is just rife with awkward ironies after the recent election.
Why, oh why the filmmakers must wonder are those Red State denizens not
convinced when liberals like Sloane and Schmidt talk down to them, as they pat
themselves on the back? None of this dialogue rings true. Rather, it reflects the
prejudices Perera projects on those he does not agree with and gives Chastain
the sort of zingy one-liners he wishes he heard more often on MSNBC.
the one place Miss Sloane works are
the scenes the lobbyist shares with her gigolo, Forde. Actually, he is the new
guy the agency keeps sending over, which she is not thrilled about, because it
slightly alters the tightly structured life she has arranged for herself. In
these very adult sequences, Jessica Chastain shows intriguing flashes of
vulnerability as Miss Elizabeth Sloane, nicely playing off and with Jake Lacy
as the not-as-dumb-as-he-looks Forde.
the campaign progresses, we watch one phony twist after another, each of which
proves just how much smarter and morally superior Miss Elizabeth Sloane is compared
to her competition. This is exactly the sort of blatantly obvious manipulation
that left the old media’s reputation in tatters. Chastain does not help matters
either, playing her congressional hearings as if Nicole Kidman’s climatic
speech in Grace of Monaco was just too
blasted subtle (and logical). So much for that unshakable professional
In a better alternate universe, there is a
superior Miss Sloane made in the late
1950s. It stars Jerry Lewis as the mailroom boy who carries a torch for Miss
Elizabeth Sloane (Oh, Miss Sloane!), played by Phyllis Kirk. However, he is
also a secret NRA member. When he saves Miss Sloane by blowing a stalker to
Kingdom Come, she changes her mind on guns, but it is still bittersweet for
Lewis, because she falls in love with Schmidt instead (played by Martin
Milner), with whom she marries and moves to Idaho, starting a business selling
refurbished vintage firearms at gun shows. Sadly, that rather silly Miss Sloane is not nearly as ridiculous
as the version we have in our universe. The one we are stuck with is just an
eye-rolling, face-palming viewing experience. Not recommended, not even for its
unintentional giggles, Miss Sloane opens
today (11/25) in New York, at the AMC Lincoln Square.
Labels: Jessica Chastain