Watching Miss Sloane is an exercise in endurance unlike any movie you will ever experience. It’s longer than Robert Altman’s 3-hour epic Short Cuts, the Director’s Cut of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Andy Warhol’s 320-minute experimental film Sleep put together. I started watching it on Monday morning and the credits didn’t roll until Friday around 3 AM.
At least, it felt that way.
Not only was the film ponderous, dreary, and dull, it failed to make its titular character the least bit likable. Jessica Chastain, with milk-pale skin and scarlet, liverish lips, made the role of a humorless, disagreeable, and personally disgusting character her own, which should be a career-killer; everyone else she portrays in future films will have the Sloane slime upon her, the cinematic equivalent of the Mark of Cain. Part character study, part anti-2nd Amendment screed, at no point did the movie achieve the goal that most pieces of art make at least a patent attempt at: to entertain, to captivate.
In short, Miss Sloane is progressive pornography.
A pill-popper, an inveterate liar, and a frequenter of male prostitutes, Liz Sloane represents the apotheosis of what leftist women aspire to be: doesn’t want a family; doesn’t need a man (except for occasional, impersonal sex); and is single-mindedly wedded to her career, which is a “conviction lobbyist.” Don’t ask me what a conviction lobbyist is, because they made it up in the same way that George Lucas made up lightsabers for Star Wars. After being asked to take on the NRA as a client (the NRA is not named, but we know it’s the NRA), progressive goddess Liz Sloane laughs outright at the idea of women defending themselves with firearms, quits her job at the lobbying firm, and goes to work for another lobbying firm that’s looking to ram a Universal Background Checks bill through the U.S. Senate.
Liz Sloane’s position on 2nd Amendment rights, she says, “solidified between Columbine and Charleston.” When she resigns the evil gun-supporting lobbying firm, she takes some of her millennial staff with her, including one nebbishy guy who says, “Guns frighten me.” One of her colleagues is the survivor of a school shooting, which is why she’s a gun control advocate. What these story elements tell us is something we knew already: gun-grabbers come to their opinions not out of personal experience handling firearms and living America’s gun culture, but through fear. And because they’re afraid of firearms, they must outlaw them. For everybody. Who wants to be the lone coward who puts the responsibility of defending himself on other men’s shoulders? Ego demands that one’s irrational fear be shared, and hence become normalized.
The film posits several times that the reason why the Brady Campaign hasn’t achieved its gun control dreams (which ultimately end in complete confiscation, no matter what else they claim) is because of money. They just can’t outspend the NRA. More gun laws are what Americans want, they say, but it’s just that darned NRA keeping politicians from enacting stricter and stricter gun regulations. This, as informed readers know, is not only hogwash, but it’s also nothing that hasn’t been said a thousand times before.
And that’s the problem. Every well-worn gun-grabbing bromide you’ve ever heard is tricked out, thrown into the spotlight, and paraded on stage as though no one has ever seen it before. Grieving mother of a fictional school shooting victim: check. Flailing, pro forma defense of 2nd Amendment rights by an incompetent antagonist: check. Claims that gun control is chiefly a women’s issue: check. There’s even a scene where one character is threatened at gunpoint by a crazed gun rights supporter who wants to kill her because she’s a gun control advocate. The scene is leavened by a pathetic attempt at moral complexity when a man with a concealed carry permit saves her life by blowing the would-be assassin away. So not only are the ideas behind the film hackneyed, but the characters are themselves caricatures of either side of the gun debate.
To grow as a person, to challenge yourself and see what the other side of an issue is thinking, you have to watch what they watch and read what they read. You might change your mind, or at least consider your position from another perspective. Even if you think you know what they think. Well, I’ve done that for you. Don’t waste your time with Miss Sloane. You won’t learn anything new. Heck, you won’t even be entertained.
It’s too late for me. I’ll never get those hours back. Save yourself.