Elizabeth Sloane is a lobbyist (a person who takes part in an organised attempt to influence legislators). She’s asked to essentially sell the idea of guns to to women, to support the use of guns. She refuses (thank God), and goes to another firm to support gun-control. In the end, she wins, with enormous sacrifices along the way.
Black nails. Dark, red lips. Heels that you can hear long before her voice. Lobbying is a men’s club. An old, white men’s club, to be exact, as Elizabeth points it out. She needs to be demanding respect, to be taken seriously, to be intimidating even before she opens her mouth. Never wearing pink, or any soft colours, anything that would be considered particularly girlie. One would compare her to a vixen, always looking for her next prey.
This comparison could easily be made regarding to her personality, as well. Liz is addicted to winning. She’s always looking for the next challenge. Every time it needs to get bigger and bigger, and harder. She thrives in these situations. That’s why she accepted to fight for gun-control. She doesn’t really care about the cause itself, she only sees that this will be an extremely hard case to win.
Over the course of time, the case stops being just about the gun debate, it turns toward gender politics. Now, Liz says so herself, she doesn’t care about gender, this isn’t what she’s fighting for. Ironically, simply because she is a female, it inevitably touches on that, too.
Elizabeth is an unusual heroine. She fights for the good, but not for the right reasons. She is extremely flawed, she’s a woman that the majority of people would consider unlikable. Personally, I loved watching her, I even admired her strength. She has incredible work ethic. Because Liz is a workaholic, she doesn’t just loves to work, she can’t stop, she works at least sixteen hours a day. She suffers from insomnia, but instead of asking for help, she takes medicine that helps her stay up even longer. She’s a perfectionist, aggressive, massively goal oriented, almost machine-like. But this is a persona that she has carefully built over the years. Under all that layers, there’s a living, breathing human being, who seems like she’s almost afraid of intimacy of any kind.
We can see that through her relationship with Robert Forde, a male escort who grows close to Elizabeth. Liz views sex as just another necessary task that needs to be done, as fast as possible. She doesn’t bring feelings into it. She has the same relationship with food. She always eats the same food, at the same place, at the same time. She doesn’t enjoy it. Forde would like to get to know Liz, even if just on a surface level, but Elizabeth doesn’t let him in. They accidentally run into each other, and Robert finds out who Liz really is. After that, they share an undeniable intimacy, which Elizabeth is wary of, but ultimately appreciates.
Her most important relationship is with Esme, who works with her. Elizabeth sees people as collateral damage, either tools or obstacles she has to control in order to win. But her perspective changes once Esme’s life is endangered due to her actions. She realises that Esme is actually important to her. When she denies to work with her any further, you can see that Liz is broken. This is one of the very few moments when we can witness her humanity. At the end, when she has won the case, she’s not smiling, she doesn’t feel accomplished. She only looks for Esme. Her approval. But Esme looks away. Their friendship cannot be repaired.
Elizabeth Sloane is always the smartest person in the room, she’s always one step ahead. And deep down, she does care about people, not just winning. She mentors women. She sacrifices herself for the cause but saves everyone else in the process. She is a heroine. Flawed, but a true heroine nonetheless. The movie ends with her losing her career, just getting out of prison, but it’s not a sad, nor a defeat. It’s a victory. She’s ready to start a new chapter in her life. Maybe opening up to someone, letting someone in. The end is hopeful, it humanises her, leaving the viewer gaining respect for Elizabeth Sloane, just as Elizabeth Sloane gained respect for the people who surround her.
by Eszter Jászfalvi
Eszter Jászfalvi is a 16 year old femme from Budapest, Hungary, who’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist, a budding actress, a bibliophile and a beginner cook. Her favourite films include The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, Psycho, Donnie Darko, The Imitation Game and Brokeback Mountain. She’ll watch anything that Tim Burton and Wes Anderson makes, and whatever Dane Dehaan and Mia Wasikowska acts in. She’s also a serious binge watcher of all the good shows, such as Mr. Robot, Gossip Girl, American Horror Story, Bates Motel and Reign, also Black-ish. You can find her on Instagram @esztisworld and on Tumblr at esztiiscreatingherself.tumblr.com.