Starring: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow
Director: John Madden
A lot of films about politics can be very dry and a bit dull, but this certainly isn’t one of them. Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) is an ice cold, intelligent figure, a lobbyist who strikes fear into the hearts of her opponents and is therefore highly sought after. But when she takes on the gun lobby, it might be a case she can’t win, with the corruption and vendettas of politics pushing the issues to the backseat, and Sloane’s desire to win, always, at all costs, pushing her to the edge.
(Just for the record, this is a film about the game of politics, and not about the morality of gun laws).
This film stayed with me for a few days after I watched it, because I loved Chastain’s performance so much. She’s absolutely beautiful, of course, and her tailoring in this film is really something (Saint Laurent, De Le Renta, for starters). But it all serves the purpose of creating the feeling that she’s apart, she’s distant from those around her. She’s certainly unapproachable, with her red lipstick and hard stare, ready with a plan and a sharp, cutting one liner.
But this is also a persona that the character has created to succeed in her line of work. I love that she’s so whip smart, so together and takes no crap from anyone. She’s a master strategist, and nobody’s fool to boot. And yet, as this film pushes her further into dark waters, and as her opposition try to make a case against her and bribe a judge, we start to see the cracks. She won’t let anyone close and regularly pays a man for sex because she doesn’t have time for a relationship (and we suspect the emotional skills to maintain one), and yet sometimes she’s furious that he actually sees some vulnerability in her. She uses one of her team to create a buzz around her cause, which brings the woman into the spotlight and makes her a victim, and yet at one point you get the feeling that she might feel regret about this. She will stop at nothing to win, and she takes some immoral steps to get there, and yet you feel that she’s not entirely a cold person, that she’s actually one you can feel a lot of sympathy for, and in the end, I wanted her to win.
Whether you like her or not, this is a really interesting story about an interesting person. The game of politics is a cynical one. The egos and greed of those at the top are what effects policy and the lives of those that live underneath it. Miss Sloane is a woman who loves the game, and knows how to play it, and there’s something about people like her that’s endlessly fascinating.
See It If: you like strong female leads, character driven narratives or political thrillers. I really liked this film. Chastain is a wonder.