“I’m very drawn to movies that are more than one thing,” said Oscar-nominated director John Madden at a Deadline Contenders panel today, describing his unusual, illuminating gun-lobby thriller Miss Sloane. “This is a film that has many different levels to it.”

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Deadline

Giving audiences an inside look at the machinations of the Washington D.C gun lobby, the film from Europacorp stars Jessica Chastain as Elizabeth Sloane, a ruthless lobbyist notorious for her talent and desire to win at all costs, even when it puts her career at risk. The film pulls back the curtain on how Capitol Hill games are played and won, as Sloane faces off against the powers that be.

“It’s about political process, but strangely, it’s not a political drama, a category that would make the eyes glaze over, I suspect. It’s a very surprising piece,” Madden told moderator Mike Fleming of Deadline during the Europacorp panel. Chastain agreed. In researching the role, the actress met with 11 female lobbyists, finding that the ideas she had in her mind about these women did not match up with reality. “I don’t know why, but I imagined I would play the role with no makeup, and wearing the same clothes over and over again,” Chastain said. What the actress found was that seven of the 11 women wore black nail polish, which the actress associated with “goths and rock and roll.” What does this aesthetic choice suggest about these women? “It means ‘Watch out,’” Madden joked.

Madden spoke about the political relevance of the film at this particular moment, and the way in which the worlds of politics and media have collided with the film’s release. “The attitude to women in that world has now roared to the top of the agenda, and this film casts some interesting light on that,” he explains. “It’s not as frustrating as watching CNN for two hours, where you peel away from it going ‘Help!’ This film offers you hope at the end of the process, but partly because it’s telling a story.”

Alluding to the impending, anxiously awaited day of judgment on November 8, Madden concluded, “This story is about to have its conclusion, with its aftermath – which we all quake about, I imagine.­”