(2022) (Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan) (R)
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- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: New York Times reporters begin investigating reports of sexual crimes and improprieties by a famous Hollywood producer and studio head.
Following their story by Megan Twohey (CAREY MULLIGAN) on allegations of impropriety against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, the New York Times decides to cast a wider net looking for related workplace behavior across the country. Investigative reporter Jodi Kantor (ZOE KAZAN) ends up focusing on Miramax head honcho and movie producer Harvey Weinstein (MIKE HOUSTON) with actress Ashley Judd (ASHLEY JUDD) giving her the low-down on him and his bad behavior toward her and other women in the past.
With Megan joining her investigation, the two women start digging into the various allegations -- with executive editor Dean Baquet (ANDRE BRAUGHER) and editor Rebecca Corbett (PATRICIA CLARKSON) overseeing their work -- and uncover various victims, all of whom are reluctant to provide details or are under a gag order based on a past settlement with Weinstein.
As they continue with their reporting, the women discover the breadth of both victims and the systemic efforts to silence them.
- OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
One of the benefits of being a movie reviewer is meeting celebrities and attending award shows. During the latter, it's always interesting to see critics racing around to take selfies of themselves with the former, as well as see which stars and behind-the-camera talent seek each other out during commercial breaks. But what's most telling is who's excluded from such latter pairings.
At one such show, we noted a very famous and highly nominated actress and her husband sitting by themselves, with nary a person -- commoner or Hollywood celeb -- queuing up to chat or try to get a photo with them. We guessed that notwithstanding how they might otherwise appear nice and pleasant, one or both was apparently known to be anything but that and thus everyone gave them a wide berth.
While attending another show, we also saw famous Hollywood producer, award nomination wrangler, and Miramax head honcho Harvey Weinstein. He was also by himself, albeit nearly always on the phone. We figured he was likely doing business deals, but in hindsight -- now that everything salacious has since come out about him including his current 23-year prison sentence for committing sex crimes -- it would appear everyone also knew about him and his bad reputation and likewise stayed away.
That brief, from-a-distance encounter with him came to mind while watching "She Said," a true-life drama about reporters and editors at the New York Times who were determined to expose his wrongdoings that eventually led to the "Me Too" social activism movement regarding sexual harassment in workplaces across the country and world.
In this film -- directed by Maria Schrader from a screenplay by Rebecca Lenkiewicz -- Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Times investigative reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor who end up working on that story following Twohey's earlier work on similar allegations leveled against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. With editor Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson) wanting to uncover such lurid and sometimes criminal behavior in the everyday workspace, Kantor and later Twohey begin finding victims.
Those range from the famous -- such as actresses Rose McGowan (voiced by Kelly McQuail) and Ashley Judd (playing herself) -- to everyday women who worked at Miramax, such as Laura Madden (Jennifer Ehle). Weinstein (Mike Houston) is only partially seen late in the film (and heard a few more times over the phone), but his presence is felt throughout, stemming from him and his handlers having gotten away with such behavior -- and covering it up through financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements -- over the years and decades.
It's undeniably an important story to expand upon via this film and the performances are strong across the board, especially from Mulligan and Kazan who give the film its heart and soul (including the thematic elements not lost on anyone that it's women who bring down a powerful male harasser). My only complaint about the 128-minute offering is that despite all of that and the seemingly Davidas vs Goliath aspect, the overall drama and attempted suspense is somewhat surprisingly inert. That's especially true compared to other true-life investigatory films where the deeper the digging goes, the more potential peril and anticipatory sense of things building to a head are present.
Here it's all by the numbers (presumably in keeping with the real story rather than adding material to jazz things up), and while the material and individual tales are unsettling, they don't collectively build to any sort of "it's about to blow" momentum. Instead, we just watch, and while we hope (and otherwise already know) that the reporters, editors, and overall truth will prevail, I found little of it as riveting as I thought it might be. As a result, "She Said" ends up good rather than brilliant, and rates as a 6.5 out of 10.
Posted November 18, 2022 <! -- End Review Content -- >
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