"The only way these women will talk…is if they all jump together."
Based on the book of the same name by New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, "She Said" chronicles the investigation that Kantor and Twohey embarked on in 2017 that eventually led to the downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. A cross between "Bombshell" and "All the President's Men," this MeToo era film adaptation takes chances with its predominantly female cast. It draws the audience into a journey of what journalistic integrity is all about.
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan star as Twohey and Kantor, respectively. Leading with the events of Donald Trump's 2016 sexual abuse allegations, "She Said" takes a ride on the Hollywood train by detailing all of the pieces of the puzzle that led two journalists to uncover details of Harvey Weinstein's own sexual misconduct. With allegations that begin decades before our story unfolds, Weinstein was at one point the lead producer of A-list productions until his fall from grace after the New York Times investigation blew the lid off Weinstein's boiling pot.
"She Said" boasts powerful performances from its principal cast, including Patricia Clarkson, who takes on a Ben Bradlee type of role as editor Rebecca Corbett. As Weinstein's abuse goes from a few low-level offense allegations to a systemic issue plaguing the whole of the film industry, victims begin to come forward to tell their side of the story. The reality of Weinstein's crimes comes into complete focus with these victims, traumatically played by Samantha Morton and Jennifer Ehle.
The heart of "She Said" comes from the subtlety of its fact-based story and the combination of reflecting Twohey and Kantor's family lives mixed with their desire not to become part of the story. At the heart of the matter is that many women don't want to talk on the record if they believe they are the only ones choosing to speak up. Actor Ashley Judd, playing herself, strikes a much-needed balance between sensationalism and presenting a picture of what audiences need to understand about this crime: If it can happen to these women, then it can happen in any workplace.
"She Said" does struggle to add the type of filmmaking panache that Harvey Weinstein would have beat into one of his films, and its main issue is that these events tend to be too soon in the rearview mirror. But like how "All the President's Men" was released quickly after President Nixon left the White House in disgrace, so too can "She Said" demonstrate an ongoing story that confronts its larger-than-life villain. The film is anything but flashy. But sometimes substance matters when style is clouded by the truth of the moment.
The highlight of "She Said" comes from Carey Mulligan's effortless take on a real-life journalist who handled powerful men in leadership positions just as she does her newborn baby. It is strikingly remarkable in the rare moments when Mulligan's character knows she's got an interviewee right where she wants them, smirking like the cat that just caught the canary. Mulligan and Kazan both shine brightest when the movie's actions beg for a bit of context and finesse.
"She Said" might not be the most significant depiction of journalism that cinema has offered, but it's a worthwhile effort that showcases the strength of women in the face of pure evil.
Ticket Rating: 🎟🎟🎟🎟