Jessica Chastain is the lead and driving character in this intense, suspenseful drama about lobbyists and the fight for restraints on gun access and ownership legislation in Washington.
This is a tight fast paced film shot in noir color about a beautiful, no holds barred lobbyist played by, Chastain. We wonder what drives her, greed, power, challenge or something else?
She makes a career changing decision when she refuses an assignment by her corrupt firm head, George DuPont (Sam Waterson) to raise female support in support of the gun lobby because they need and everyone else needs unfettered access to guns for self-protection and protection of others against the deranged and criminal elements in society.
Chastain sees this as the same mantra that has put guns in the hands of the mentally disturbed and criminals in the first place. As a result she is canned by her firm. Could this mean she is a lobbyist with values transcending money or power?
This change is probably a good thing, personally, for her as she is a person driven to win at any cost and she has resorted to benzodiazepines to maintain her equilibrium. She also has no social or romantic life and has hired an escort named Forde (Jake Lacy) for sexual satisfaction.
At loose ends after being fired she accepts an offer by Rodolfo Vittorio Schmidt (Mark Strong) head of the firm hired to shepherd legislation for modest gun control through Congress. The offer comes with no renumeration. Does this mean she is values driven?
When she left her prior firm she took most of her support staff with her to the Schmidt firm except her closest assistant Jane Molloy (Alisson Pill) who decided to stay with the old firm for ostensibly career reasons.
|The battle is on and the Schmidt firm is ethical and cautious but Chastain runs her assignment in the same ruthless way she operated at
her old firm. She sets up her new assistant Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a gun attack survivor, as an unsuspecting example
during a televised debate with the point man for the opposition Pat Connors (Mark Stuhlbarg).
This outing crushes Esme emotionally and leads to further consequences.
The opposition seeing she is acquiring the necessary votes to enact the fought over legislation decides to destroy her personally by forcing
a Senate investigation into her past unethical practices and her hiring of escorts. The Senate hearing is led by Senator Ron Sperling (John
Lithgow) who once was a supporter of the legislation but has been forced by the gun lobby to take a position against the legislation and
conduct a Senate hearing into unethical practices by Chastain in order to destroy her credibility.
However the 40ish Sloane’s philosophy is “It’s about making sure you surprise them and they don’t surprise you.”
There is never a dull moment in the film about a beautiful, intelligent, ruthless woman making her way in the world at great expense to her personal life and health. In the end we see what drives her and it is not conventional power, money or values.
The dialogue is crisp and smart and the acting, especially Chastain’s, is superior as well as the directing and cinematography.
With all that said and while this film is a good and compelling story the chances of one person, no matter how talented, of defeating
the gun lobby is remote.
Obama, Biden, Reid and Pelosi, powerful people, endeavored mightily to pass restricting legislation and failed.
Not even the tragedies at Sandy Hook and elsewhere seemed to make a difference.
However This film and others will make a difference in the long run as they make the public aware of the intransigence and the absurdity
of the gun lobbies positions. Just one more nail in the coffin.