She Said

She Said

New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor break one of the most important stories in a generation – a story that helped ignite a movement and shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood.

For many years, Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, synonymous with a raft of critically acclaimed and award winning movies through his Miramax production company. That power allowed him to get away with a multitude of sexual abuses against actresses, co-workers and other woman, and if it wasn’t for the work of two New York Times journalists, he may have been able to continuing abusing women for a longer period of time. Based on the 2019 book by the reporters involved, ‘She Said’ is the story of their investigation and how it ultimately led to Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual misconduct being exposed, leading to his dismissal from his company and a series of criminal charges which are still ongoing. The blueprint for this type of movie is of course the classic ‘All The President’s Men’, which covered the Watergate political scandal, and ‘She Said’ is the latest attempt to turn journalistic investigation into cinematic gold.

The story is told through the eyes of Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), the two reporters who broke the story, and we follow their attempts to persuade victims and those who knew about his behaviour to speak up on the matter, initially without much success. Those contacted are fearful, fearful of the implications for their career, fearful of what could happen to them if they speak up against a powerful man with a lot of money and high quality lawyers behind him. There are parallels drawn with allegations made against Donald Trump just prior to his presidency, and we can see how difficult it is to expose these men, let alone get to a position where they lose their job and face jailtime.

She Said’ is at its best when we hear direct testimony from the victims themselves, with Jennifer Ehle in particular superb as a woman recounting her time working as an assistant to Weinstein, but it does struggle to make the story truly cinematic throughout. Part of that is because whilst it is an important story, we know how it has played out to date (noting that it isn’t ‘finished’ as yet with Weinstein still on trial), and it lacks the thrilling cinematic intensity of the greats of the genre – there’s nothing to match the atmosphere of those car park meetings with Deep Throat in ATPM for example; it pretty much all takes place in office buildings and busy bars. Investigative journalism and reporting can be an exciting formula, but ‘She Said’ (and taking nothing away from the importance of the subject matter) is quite routine in how it plays out. They find out some key information, find it difficult to get traction and corroborate, make a breakthrough, then rinse and repeat, before ultimately getting enough to allow the story to be published. An astounding piece of work for sure, but not everything worthy provides a story that works in the visual medium of cinema.

Your opinion of ‘She Said’ will likely depend largely on your interest in the Weinstein case and the #MeToo movement in general, which has been well publicised through the media over the past five years. Most people are familiar with the story so this is unlikely to break any new ground, but for me, I did find it interesting to see the mechanics at work behind the scenes to bring the story to the front pages, whilst also enjoying the good performances from the stellar cast. ‘She Said’ might not be the best investigative journalism movie ever made, but it does have a strong story and cast underpinning it and it is worth checking out.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Maria Schrader

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Samantha Morton, Jennifer Ehle, Ashley Judd, Zach Grenier, Peter Friedman and Tom Pelphrey

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