I’m going to be 100% honest here. I just watched Miss Sloane – and I’m still a little unclear what happened. But, (and I actually do this a lot… shhhh) as I talk through a movie, it usually becomes more clear, what exactly, just happened. I’ll be honest, Miss Sloane is a complicated movie with a ton of moving parts. And I would actually go so far as to say that it isn’t actually a political movie but rather more of a heist movie. You know, one of those movies that make you go… oh. OH. uh. oh? OhhHHHhh. nope. hrm. AHh!
You know the kind.
So all that to say, if you haven’t seen Miss Sloane yet, I’d recommend it for those of you that love political thrillers. And it’s a MUST watch if you even know who Aaron Sorkin is. Basically it follows a lobbyist as she tilts at the gun lobby windmill and does absolutely anything and everything to win. Jessica Chastain plays a woman that is out for blood by always playing her ace after the other side has played their ace, over and over again. So yeah, I actually adored this movie. But it is a mental work out to keep up with. And for me to say that? Hahahah. This movie won’t be for absolutely everyone. Boy did I enjoy it though.
See? Great movie. Definitely a must see. Hard as nails movie. Alright now though, I’d prefer to chat with those of you who have already seen it. K? So if you haven’t yet? Cease, desist. Go. Shoo.
The Internal Workings of the Movie Miss Sloane
As I said above, this thing has been constructed like a bank heist movie, not a political thriller. We have a mark. And we have a tight knit group of con-men that are working together towards their trophy. And none of this is clear ahead of time. None of it. To make matters worse, the movie starts at the end, goes to the beginning, goes deeper into the ending and the leaps backwards to the middle. So we think we know what is happening at the end, but we really don’t know anything at all.
The writer for this movie is a man by the name of Jonathan Perera. Right. TOTALLY LOVE HIM TOO?!? Nope. You have never heard of him because he’s never written anything before and comes out swinging with a half court shot out of nowhere. Like an Aaron Sorkin walk and talk 10. This kid Jonathan actually wrote Miss Sloane cold, on his own – while teaching English in Korea. (Ok, sure, he was a lawyer earlier on, which ups his success percentage from .0001% to .00015%. So there is that. And I have to say, that I have ALWAYS wanted to write a film script. Now, if only I had a story like Miss Sloane to tell! hahah. Anyway, the internal workings of this movie are more like a safe than any other movie you’ve ever seen. So when watched it the first time, I’m sure, you were caught off guard when the end rolled around. I sure was anyway.
Miss Sloane Movie High Level Plot
I normally dive really deeply on movies and the ins and outs of what happened and how they worked. But this time? I plan to just give the skeletal overarching structure of what is going on. Just enough so that when we talk through the ending in detail we have a half decent idea of what it is that I’m talking about. Cool? Great. (“NO!! DIVE DEEEP!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!??” whatever.) But I have read the script just because I adored the banter so very much (thankfully it was blacklisted, and was easily available. You too can find it out here.) and am already wondering how succinct I’ll be able to be. (Succinctness is not a skill I have.)
The movie kicks off with Miss Sloane in trouble. We know she’s in trouble because she is talking to her lawyer and giving us the keys to the entire movie without giving anything away: “Lobbying is about foresight. About anticipating your opponent’s moves and devising countermeasures. The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays her trump card just after they play theirs.” And quickly we learn that she is being investigated by a Senate Investigation Commission. But why?!?
Well, to understand that, we need to jump backwards in time 7 months to Sloane’s time at Cole, Kravitz and Waterman LLP. Because it is while there that she gets tipped by a firm that wants to hire her to take on the gun lobby. And it’s while there that Sloane talkes 75% of her team to leave with her to tackle the 2nd amendment. Oh not to change the country for better, but to win an argument no one has ever won before. A true David and Goliath story. Oh, and by the way, one of the team members she leaves behind? Her name is Jane. Remember her name. She’ll become important again soon enough. But before we leave our dear Jane, I wanted to include this amazing banter as proof to why I think we may have found a Sorkin Sequel (oh, he just got so nicknamed like right now.)
JANE – So a Congressman can technically get rich by sponsoring bills that screw foreign governments and wait for them to buy him off?
ELIZABETH – That’s a little too much work for a class of people who exempt themselves from insider trading laws.
JANE – You see? This is why I’m thinking about post-grad.
ELIZABETH – Jane, we go to school because it prepares us for the real world. You happen to find yourself at the sharp end of the real world at the age of twenty-nothing.
JANE – I’m not so sure I like the ‘real world.’
Cut to Peterson Wyatt, the “boutique law firm with a bi-partisan Government Affairs division” where Sloane has stolen away to with her old team from Cole, Kravitz and Waterman. But now? They are going to try and do the impossible, they are trying to get Heaton-Harris passed on the Hill. Oh and by the way, they need at least 34 members of Congress to flip in order to make it happen.
So the ducking and weaving begins. Peterson Wyatt begins advertising, canvassing, talk shows, etc. Sloane begins pushing Esme Manucharian as the face of their grass roots movement. But eventually Cole, Kravitz, and Waterman want a go at Sloane herself. And she demurs until, she finally agrees to a prime time debate between the two lobbying firms. During which debate, Sloane completely off message and starts downplaying the Constitution completely. And then, to Esme’s horror, Sloane tells the world that Esme was in the closet hiding during the most famous high school mass shooting in history. (Can’t remember the name of the high school they used, and it isn’t in the script, but it is obviously a stand in for Columbine.) A few days later, a maniac with a gun is about to kill Esme, but is killed by someone with a concealed carry. And the downward spiral starts.
Cole, Kravitz, etc. decides that in order to win they will need to go after Sloane herself, and find ethics charges to bring her down. And the firm, which Sloane used to work for begins digging – lead by Jane… you know THE JANE? – through all their files looking for anything and everything to take her down with. (Please, I’m 1200 words in at this point in my “short” overview… I know I am leaving scads and scads of details out here. You would be shocked at the emails I get pointing all the erroneous details I get wrong as I desperately try to get to the point.) And sure enough, at the beginning of the movie, they were working on the Palm Oil lobby and offered a trip to a congressman in order to secure his vote. And Jane found the paperwork, with Sloane’s handwriting on it.
Cut back to the Senate Hearing we started the movie with. And now we start to see that the Senate has some pretty serious dirt on Sloane. We know that she has considered utilizing ex-NSA guys in order to track, and bug (literally) Senators to harass them into voting the right direction on the Heaton bill. We know that the Senate Hearing has this inappropriate travel approval with Sloane’s handwriting all over it. And then the committee marches in Sloane’s male prostitute… right? This is going all kinds of pear-shaped at this point. And more importantly, their 34 votes necessary to pass the bill are rapidly rapidly rapidly disappearing. Right? Elizabeth Sloane is not only going to lose this fight for the Heaton-Harris bill, she is also going to go to jail.
But at the back of our collective brains – rings the quote from the beginning of the movie… “Always play your ace after they have played theirs.” How though? What possible play could she actually have up her sleeve still? Nothing. She’s got nothing. There is no way she’s going to get Heaton passed. Right? Wrong.
Miss Sloane Ending Explained
Alright, FINALLY. I’m at the bit I’ve been wanting to talk about. All the rest has just been the framework to actually discuss this last bit coherently. As the Senate Hearing concludes its railing against Elizabeth Sloane, they offer her the opportunity to make any final comments that she may like to make. Which, would prove to be the hearing’s downfall.
Sloane opens by talking about how she broke the ethics code by how she treated her co-workers and her friends. She talks about her failures due to her desire to win. That it was her drive for success that caused he to blindly attack and do whatever she could in order to win.
And then she starts to disclose that she understood that Cole, Kravitz, and Waterman would do anything to win as well. Including tarring and feathering her in an attempt to discredit her, and dismantling their campaign to pass Heaton. And so she had certain susceptible Congressmen surveiled to see if the lobbyist team would bribe the member into convening a hearing on her. And sure enough, they did. And sure enough, ladies and gentlemen, our esteemed head of the committee Congressman Sperling was bribed into convening this exact hearing. Mayhem ensues. Simultaneously, Jane hands in her notice… “I don’t think this is hardly the time Jane.” “Uh, no, I think this is exactly the time…” The note in the envelope reads:
Page one – “A conviction lobbyist can’t only believe in her ability to win”
Page two – “For services rendered Peterson Wyatt offers you $0”
Now to understand this – remember back to the quote that Sloane gives to the head of Peterson, Wyatt as he is pitching her to come on board. Sloane says: “A conviction-lobbyist never cheats; she exposes cheaters.” Right? So page one is a reference to this idea… not only do conviction lobbyists need to believe… they need to win. They need to close the deal for the betterment of their conviction, for their moral end. Pretty simple.
But what about that second page? Remember that Jane’s firm’s name is Cole, Kravitz, and Waterman. Jane is saying, she now works for Peterson Wyatt. And not only that, but Cole, Kravitz, and Waterman were the ones that allowed them to win on the Heaton bill. It was because of their ruthlessness against Sloane that allowed Sloane to win. But you know what, although you helped us greatly… we owe you nothing for that help. Right? Does that make sense?
Miss Sloane Movie Ending to Eleven
I got all that as the movie turned off. But I didn’t understand the timeline. I didn’t get Jane thing. I didn’t understand their connection. I didn’t understand the relationship between Cole and between Peterson. But as I was writing this it clicked. And I think the best way to explain that bit of trivia I will do a high level timeline of the movie in chronological order, which will clarify a number of things pretty quickly I think.
- Sloane and team are working at Cole, Kravitz, and Waterman on Palm Oil or something
- The head of the gun lobby comes to Cole and pitches to have Sloane run their ANTI-Heaton push
- Sloane refuses and ridicules the head of the gun lobby
- The head of Cole flips out completely because he wants the business
- Mean time the head of Peterson, Wyatt pitches Sloane on fighting for Heaton
- Sloane connects the dots immediately and has an epiphany
- Sloane pulls Jane aside and says, I’m going to leave, you are going to stay. Jane agrees.
- They have the conversation in the bathroom about the Palm Oil stuff and how they are going to slick a Congressman by sending him on a trip.
- Jane and Sloane draft up the paperwork to send the Congressman
- Sloane announces to the team she is leaving, and offers to let her team come if they want
- Most go with Sloane, but Jane stays as they agreed
- Sloane starts tearing it up over at Wyatt knowing that its just chum in the water for Cole & company
- Sloane uses her ex-NSA team to surveil key Congress people
- They catch George DuPont of Cole on video bribing Congressman Sperling
- She reveals the tape at the hearing proving that Cole, Kravitz, and Waterman were unethical
- Sloane says nothing about how the trip was just done to catch Cole & company
- Sloane serves 4 to 6 months for unethical travel inducements instead of 5 years for perjury
So many of these details were never said within the movie itself. A few of them were in the script. But most of them were implied indirectly. But once you see them all in order it should help clear up a few of the confusing bits of this movie. At least they did for me anyway. I think I was on like number 11 as I was writing them and I was like… nice, no way. hahah. Just helps a lot to see it play out in the actual order they happened.
But What Does It Mean?
Was the movie about 2nd amendment rights? I thought it was about guns??! No, actually it wasn’t. Sure, some of the details of the debates and the arguments are brilliant (particularly the drivers license debate argument, “we need licenses to drive cars, right? Why not licenses for operating deadly weaponry?”) but that isn’t what this movie is actually about. It was a meta-discussion about the duplicitousness of D.C. The deadliness of power. And utlimately it was all about the intoxication of the drug called “winning”.
At the end, Sloane won. But she was also changed. She wasn’t normal per se. But she was changed. She truly had come to a realization that she had really screwed over Esme… almost got her killed actually. She had assumed that someone would attack herself. But not Esme. And that caused her to reconsider all the planning and the chess maneuvers she had planned. Right? She hadn’t taken the pills on her way into the courtroom, right? (I think I’m right on this point. Will double check soon enough.) She was changed. Sure, she still won the case, and did absolutely anything she had to do to win. But I am willing to bet she won’t be doing this again. No? Even if I’m wrong on this point, I do think this was a movie about the bigger problems in politics and our country. That big money does anything to get away with pretty much anything it can. And that just isn’t ok.
No? Disagree? Did I miss anything? What are your thoughts on the details of the inner-workings of how this movie unfolded? Comment below. I definitely want to hear your thoughts on this fantastic movie.
Edited by: CY