Sunday, December 11, 2016

Miss Sloane [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (S. O'Malley) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

Miss Sloane [2016] (directed by John Madden, screenplay by Jonathan Perera) is a dark, monstrously calculating, "House of Cards"-like contemporary political thriller that will challenge _anyone_ thinking of committing oneself to enter the halls of government to seek to work for the greater common good.  Yet, I do believe that it's better to _know_ what "one's up against" before entering such political life than to enter such life naively.  Still, a better (and certainly far more constructive) education can be found in the documentary series 12 Stories: How Democracy Works Now [2010] [] one which one should be able to find and borrow through one's local public library.

The current story centers on Elizabeth Sloane (played as always to Oscar nomination worthy heights by Jessica Chastain, _well_ on her way to becoming Meryl Streep's successor as perhaps the best actress of her generation).  Miss Sloane, MISS because, driven as she was, she apparently never had interest in marriage / family / etc, is a ruthless, well on _her_ way legendary WASHINGTON LOBBYIST who prided herself on  _NEVER_ LOSING -- contemporary Democracy's "power behind the throne," contemporary Democracy's Lady MacBeth, who though it's never mentioned could _easily_ have held Sun Tzu's The Art of War [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [eBook] as _her_ Bible -- "Never, ever let them surprise you, but wait and surprise them." 

At the beginning of the film, the Gun Lobby comes to The Firm where Miss Sloane works with a request: Already having a _lock_ on the nation's Congress, they would still like to extend their power by finding some way to 'sell guns' to _women_.  "Security moms" aside, women have been notoriously "soft" in their support / appreciation of guns.  Indeed, they tend to find guns ... well ... dangerous.  So trying to address this "negative image" that women would seem to have with guns, the Gun Lobby decides to explore the possibility of hiring The Firm where Miss Sloane works to see if they could "change such perceptions."  And yes, they're going to Miss Sloane's Firm in good part because SHE, assumed to be a Machiavellian "killer lobbyist," worked there.

YET ... both Miss Sloane's bosses (the head boss played quite excellently by character-actor Sam Waterson) and "head of the NRA"-like potential client (played by Chuck Shamata) are FRANKLY SHOCKED when Miss Sloane REFUSES the job.  She tells them quite matter-of-factly that she simply did not believe in their cause.  WHAT'S MORE, she takes the opportunity to do something EVEN MORE SHOCKING ... She decides to leave The Firm (with five of her assistants in tow) TO TAKE-ON the Gun Lobby instead.  WT ... ?

Fascinating is that that Miss Sloane does this NOT "for personal reasons" (she knew NO ONE personally who had suffered as a result of gun violence) but instead (1) as a result of _reasoned conviction_  (It _really_ made _no sense to her_ why one needs to get a drivers' license to drive, a pilots' license to fly, a medical degree to perform surgery, but any psychopath could go to a gun show and walk home with a military style assault rifle and all the ammunition that one could carry) and (2) she does it, well, for _the professional challenge_.  Remember, SHE NEVER LOSES.  As an "undefeated prize fighter," what bigger challenge in the Lobbying Field would there be than to take-on the Gun Lobby in Washington?  And so then ... it's "game on."

Now a LOT OF VIEWERS could really _get sick_ here.  Okay, the Cause is Just (and the Catholic Church in the United States has _regularly_ and _consistently_ spoken out for what would seem like common sense restrictions on gun ownership.  How could it not?  IT'S A CHURCH).  But look at The Cause's champion here: an ice-cold, thoroughly ruthless, professional lobbyist willing to do _just about anything_ "to win."  Is "winning" in such a no-holds-barred, throw anybody and everybody under the bus fight worth it?

Well that's the question asked ... and it's a very well written, well acted, if quite dark film.

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