She Said, directed by Maria Schrader, chronicles the inspiring and ground breaking investigative journalism that began to reveal the extent of Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct and abuse of power over many decades. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan star in this powerful drama. Impact‘s Ben Nathan reviews.
In October 2017, investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey of The New York Times published an article exposing decades of sexual abuse at the hands of business mogul, Harvey Weinstein. Akin to All The President’s Men (1976), Spotlight (2015) and The Post (2017), this film sets to portray the admirable efforts the two journalists employed to obtain stories from the women who experienced Weinstein’s abuse. It excells at this, due to its performances, direction and screenplay.
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Twohey and Kantor respectively, and carry the film with their restrained yet powerful performances, using the spitfire dialogue to their advantage. It’s the smaller roles, however, the one and two-scene wonders, that present the most impact. Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Morton, and Angela Yeoh are all magnificent in their small but important roles. Perhaps the most potent and poignant performance comes from Ashley Judd, who appears as herself, and uses her limited screen time to recount things that happened to her, in a powerful way.
It doesn’t beat around the bush
Schrader’s direction and Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s screenplay are so straightforward, direct and to the point, which I think is the best approach to be taken. It doesn’t beat around the bush or overly dramatise this story, but simply tells it how it is. It’s straightforward nature is appropriate given the freshness and timeliness of this event. It would’ve been disrespectful to the victims to sensationalise this story, and ultimately avoids making a spectacle out of suffering.
On the other hand, it does at time lead this film to appearing a bit dry and drawn out, as its simplistic nature doesn’t have the typical cinematic flair one might expect from a journalism story. Thankfully, Maria Schrader delicately handles the task by creating a thoroughly engaging story that remains faithful to journalistic virtue, throughout its two hour runtime.
She Said works best in its honest, one–on–one conversations between the reporter, and someone who has had to encounter Weinstein. You can feel the tension that is created by these conversations, and the power of them remains in their quiet nature. Simple moments like a phone ringing and a panoramic view of a hotel corridor, create a huge impact helped in part by the knowledge of the subject matter being dealt with, so much so that it possesses an almost thriller-like quality to the film.
Being brave enough to have their names published in the articles, suggesting their authority too
To me, all of this remains as a vehicle to respect the women who experienced Weinstein’s abuse. The film never delves too far into their stories, or shows Weinstein as a character. Decisions like this speak to the true meaning of the film: the power of truth. When Meghan Twohey says near the beginning of the film, “I can’t change what happened but together we can help protect other people”, it speaks to the real strength of collective agency.
Collective agency and strength in numbers is ultimately what led to the exposure of Harvey Weinstein, and we see the women in the story transition from being terrified to speak up about their experiences, to being brave enough to have their names published in the articles, suggesting their authority too.
A big screw you to Harvey Weinstein
As we speak, Harvey Weinstein is currently on trial in Los Angeles for further allegations, and She Said is the first film depicting the beginning of his downfall from the business mogul he once was. I’m certain we will see many more films in the future displaying this story, and although this can sometimes be a hard watch, I urge you to do so. If not to revel in a big screw you to Harvey Weinstein, then to recognise and honour the small heroes, and the women who have and continue to demonstrate their strength against authoritative powers, and ensure these important matters remain in the public consciousness.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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