The new film Miss Sloane starring Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Alison Pill gives us an unflinching look at the morally questionable world of political lobbying. This roller coaster of a film brings into focus the scheming, manipulative and unscrupulous nature of how laws in America get made — for better or worse.
Not much is known about the lobbying industry and that’s on purpose. Lobbyists prefer to keep their moves close to their chest as they work on behalf of their clients. So what exactly is a lobbyist? A lobbyist is a person or group paid to persuade members of the government to make laws that would benefit their group. Though this is a legitimate industry, it is highly controversial.
The reason lobbyists are often scorned is because they are paid to act on behalf of corporations whose financial goals are not always in the best interest of American citizens. One example is the tobacco industry. Though it’s been known for years that cigarettes — and now e-cigarettes — are hazardous to your health, millions of dollars are spent on lobbyists every year to ensure our laws allow tobacco products to be readily available and affordable. The gun industry is also well-known for having a powerful lobby.
In Miss Sloane, Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane, a cutthroat lobbyist willing to circumvent legal and ethical boundaries to win.
Though the gun lobby offers Miss Sloane a lot of money to work on their behalf by convincing moms that guns protect, not hurt, their children, she quits her job at a top lobbying firm to go to work for the opposition, taking the side of gun control.
But what’s most interesting about Elizabeth Sloane is that the motive for her decision to work for the little guy is never revealed. Personally, she may or may not be for gun restrictions — we never find out. Instead, it seems as if her true motivation is the glory of single-handedly pummeling Goliath (the gun industry) to death. Elizabeth Sloane is a female character rarely seen in movies.
Masculine in many ways, including having regular trysts with male prostitutes, Elizabeth Sloane is unique because she doesn’t represent the film’s moral center — something female characters usually do in movies. Instead, her morality, motives and actions are all highly questionable from the start. Her moral core seems to be based on winning for winning’s sake, no matter the consequences.
Miss Sloane isn’t really a feminist or even a political film. Its agenda is only to ride the wave of power to see how far one person can take it. Turns out, it’s a long, terrifying but exhilarating ride.
To prepare for her role, Chastain went to Washington D.C., to meet with 11 real-life female lobbyists. According to a recent interview she did with Awards Daily, Chastain said, “Seven of the 11 lobbyists that I met with were wearing black nail polish. I thought to myself that was odd. I assume black nail polish is rock and roll, so to see D.C. power players wearing black nail polish was a strong, bold and aggressive choice.”
Chastain also took note of their clothing, “The way that they dress, a lot of black and power suits. Almost masculine in the way they dress, but still strong and sexy. I saw that it was a way of putting on a uniform and it was like a battle cry. A way of being heard and seen before you even enter the room.”
Elizabeth Sloane makes a perfect metaphor for the lobbying industry: aggressive, masculine, sexy and battle-ready. If the film has any message, it’s that we as Americans need to be wary of how the sausage gets made in Washington, because it’s more disturbing than most of us realize.