She Said: Review
She Said Synopsis: The New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor publish a report that exposes sexual abuse allegations against powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The shocking story also serves as a launching pad for the #MeToo movement, shattering decades of silence around sexual assault and harassment.
Two dedicated investigative journalists uncover the history of abuse and malpractice behind Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in She Said. The Weinstein scandal is one of the most significant junctures in modern popular culture. The developments, which jumpstarted the #MeToo movement in 2017, provided the industry and public with much-needed transparency on the problematic behaviors plaguing Hollywood and other enterprises alike.
The subject matter’s worthwhile virtues and raw poignancy receive the Hollywood treatment with She Said. On paper, I see the value of highlighting journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor as they descend into the broken culture that ignored problematic behaviors impacting countless victims. In execution, She Said is modest and well-intended, but the film rarely captures the enormous weight of its meaningful chapter in history.
It’s clear the creative team imbued significant tact in their approach. Director Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz showcase a noble dedication to the cold-hard facts of their true story, thankfully ignoring the Hollywood impulse to infuse fictionalized truths onscreen. The candid approach works best when the duo digs into the extensive efforts behind Twohey and Kantor’s reporting. The journalists’ grueling, day-to-day dedication spotlights two women managing the pressures of balancing family and work as they crack the code on a malignant industry leader.
Intimate instances of confessional revelations from Weinstein’s victims are especially impactful. Schrader strips away any showy filmmaking device during these scenes – a choice that allows the painful reflections to conjure raw gravitas and aching vulnerabilities. She Said is also bolstered by a remarkably dedicated cast. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan are naturalistic forces as two journalists steadfast in their pursuits, while Samantha Morton, Jennifer Ehle, and Ashley Judd offer vital supportive work as critical eyewitnesses.
She Said boasts worthwhile elements and unrelenting sincerity towards its subjects. Unfortunately, the final product ultimately sinks under its true story’s sobering realities. Part of the ineffectiveness derives from the overwhelming Hollywoodization impacting the narrative. Schrader is often sensitive and restrained in her filmmaking approach, but her subdued work is overblown by a full-throttle pace and a woefully ineffective score by composer extraordinaire Nicholas Britell. A gamut of cheap montages and supposedly thrilling plot beats work too hard to energize the story’s more fact-based origins.
The need to infuse extra tension into material that’s already bursting with evocative steaks undermines the potency of She Said’s message. Each showy choice eventually feels like an unnecessary gimmick added to garner more interest from mainstream moviegoers. Unlike the recent investigative journalist feature Spotlight, She Said does not trust its material enough to let its story speak for itself.
Lenkiewicz’s screenplay is equally ineffective. The screenwriter assembles the report’s facts with an earnest eye for truthful disclosures. However, the script is too undernourished for its own good. Even as the film tries to manifest meaningful mediations on corrupt workplace culture and the suppressive voices silencing dissenters, Lenkiewicz’s efforts are too streamlined in addressing how these dynamics have plagued corporate systems for decades. The narrative also would’ve benefited from more familiarity with its protagonists, often feeling distant from the hardships Megan and Jodi managed along their journey.
She Said is the ultimate example of commendable aspirations not always resulting in a great film. While dedicated to a critical message, the final product stumbles in its attempts to spotlight issues still lingering in our zeitgeist.
She Said is now playing in theaters.