Miss Sloane: What You Need To Know
Anybody who has kept even half an eye on American affairs over the last few decades will no doubt be grimly aware that America, perhaps more than any other developed nation on Earth, has a gun problem. Mass shootings such as those that took place at schools in Columbine and Sandy Hook, a nightclub in Orlando and a church in the South Carolina town of Charleston are just some of the more high-profile incidents involving firearms on U.S. soil in recent years, and while incidents like these are by no means a phenomenon exclusive to the United States, one of the more alarming facts about these shootings – and one that is particularly difficult to fully grasp for non-Americans – is that in many of these cases the firearms involved were obtained legally, and with remarkable ease.
Part of the issue is a constitutional one; while the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” is enshrined in the Second Amendment, the interpretation of this law has repeatedly been the subject of debate and legal wrangles, but the political imperative to change laws around gun control has been hamstrung by both a surprising amount of public support for the status quo and a particularly aggressive pro-gun lobbying industry exemplified by organisations such as the National Rifle Association.
It is this latter aspect that forms the basis for Miss Sloane, a film written by newcomer Jonathan Perera that sees a Washington D.C. lobbyist takes on the gun lobby, with plenty of dirty tricks being played by both sides.
With the film arriving in stores on Monday, here's everything you need to know...
Who's in it?
Jessica Chastain stars in the titular role of lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane, alongside a cast that includes John Lithgow, Sam Waterston, Alison Pill, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Christine Baranski.
And who's directing?
John Madden, the British director best-known for films like Shakespeare in Love and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is the man calling the shots on this one.
What's the plot?
Elizabeth Sloane is one of the most feared and respected lobbyists in Washington D.C., with a reputation for possessing a will to win at all costs. It is this reputation that causes her to be approached by Bob Sandford, a representative of the gun manufacturing industry who wants to enlist her help in mounting a campaign to defeat the upcoming Heaton-Harris bill (a fictionalised version of the Manchin-Toomey bill), a proposed law aimed at tightening gun regulation by forcing background checks on firearms purchases. Sandford thinks Sloane can help by targeting their pro-gun message towards women, but while her boss is delighted by the prospect of adding the gun lobby to their list of clients, Sloane ridicules Sandford's plan and declines to take on the task.
Having infuriated her boss, Sloane is approached by the head of a rival agency who are setting up in opposition to the gun lobby in an attempt to get the bill passed. Sloane agrees, taking almost her entire team to the new agency and planning a campaign to defeat the gun lobby. But then things start to get ugly, underhand tactics are employed, and before long Sloane finds herself facing a congressional hearing and a possible jail sentence.
Does it deliver?
Gun control is a hugely controversial issue in the U.S. and it should come as no surprise that the NRA and its supporters have done their best to trash the film, which perhaps partly explains its poor perfromanc at the box office in the U.S., but Chastain's excellent performance is a study in steely, hard-nosed ruthlessness and while the film is unlikely to win any friends on the pro-gun side of the argument, Miss Sloane offers a fascinating and often maddening insight into the machinations of politics around the issue of gun control, and one that's well worth watching, particularly if you've ever wondered why the U.S. seems so reluctant to get a grip on the issue.