“She Said” is a satisfying journalism film – ZEIT | Team Cansler

EEven if real paper newspapers are becoming rarer every year, the basics of journalism have changed little for centuries. The job is still to contact sources, gather facts and citations, and put the results into a clear and concise piece of writing. But in the great fact-based news movies that immediately come to mind –All the President’s Men, Spotlight, The Post– it is mostly, if not exclusively, men who do this legwork. Maria Schrader is smart and satisfying she said gives another twist to the genre: this is the story of the two New York Times Journalists, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who in 2017 published the story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long history of sexual abuse and kick-started the already existing #MeToo movement. But instead of busy men in shirtsleeves walking around a newsroom and possibly phoning home occasionally to check on their wives and children, in she said We see Twohey (played here by Carey Mulligan) at home on maternity leave struggling with postpartum depression, and Kantor (Zoe Kazan) thanking her teenage daughter for helping settle her younger, more needy sister. As reporters, they are tireless. As mothers, they are tired.

It does exist she said its believable texture. That and the fact that, despite the ultimately explosive impact of this story, she said is simply a story of journalists at work. Between these vignettes of Kantor and Twohey caring for their young children at home (with the help of their admittedly supportive partners), we see them making a slew of phone calls, let alone waiting for callbacks, an almost larger proportion of the game . They meet with some sources who are immediately ready and others who are more reluctant. They discuss their ideas with their bosses. (Patricia Clarkson plays the veteran Times Editor Rebecca Corbett; Andre Braugher is Dean Baquet, the paper’s editor-in-chief at the time.) And they literally hit the pavement. Schrader shows them hurrying across crosswalks, striding across parking lots, glancing sideways at shadowy-looking vehicles almost certainly following them. Shoe leather journalism is mostly about getting from here to there; sometimes we actually see the soles of these women’s shoes.


(from left) Hywel Madden (Wesley Holloway), Laura Madden (Jennifer Ehle) and Iris Madden (Justine Colan) in She Said directed by Maria Schrader.

JoJo Whilden/Universal Pictures – © Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

but she said also shows how important strategy and sensitivity are in journalism, especially when it comes to sensitive issues. The film begins with a striking, wordless scene: It’s Ireland in 1992, and a young woman walking along the shore stumbles across a film location, a sort of historical piece with 18th-century soldiers and old wooden ships. The woman watches, enchanted by what she sees, and it is suspected that somehow she gets a film job and fulfills a dream. There’s a cut and we see her walking down a street, confused, as if she’s being followed. This vivid sequence lays the foundation for what is to come: Many of these women have been holding on to their trauma for some 25 years, possibly in secret. Some have received payoffs for their silence, but that doesn’t erase the wrongdoing that prompted them to come forward in the first place. This is the nest of insidious cover-up that Kantor steps into as she begins a fundamental story about workplace sexual harassment. She will later ask Twohey — who previously attempted a frustrating investigation into the sexual misconduct charges against then-presidential nominee Donald Trump — to join her. Together they collect names and ask questions. But they have no idea who will be willing to talk — or if their story, which other journalists have previously tried and failed to decode — will end up making any difference at all.

Continue reading: why she said One of the must read books of 2019

Somehow Schrader makes that uncertainty a palpable presence in the story. It also shows how Twohey and Kantor manage to get their subjects to talk despite this fear. Samantha Morton is great as a former Weinstein assistant who works in the London office and saw her tyrannical boss at his worst, but also realized that appalling as his behavior was, he was really just part of a larger systemic problem. Jennifer Ehle – like the same girl we saw in the film’s opening sequence, now middle-aged – has a great scene describing to Kantor the abuse she suffered and how she initially felt that her own naivety that was the problem. Kantor and Twohey formulate their quest for the greater good: If these women tell their stories, they may be able to make things better for other women who follow behind them. But everyone, including the reporters, is aware of the grim reality: These victims have had to live with their own shame and anger for years simply because they are would have spoken and no one had cared.

There are some stiff moments She said, Scenes in which the two main actors seem to be declaiming rather than speaking. At one point, the Elf Cantor asks the more glamorous but equally matter-of-fact Twohey if she’s sorry for accepting the assignment. The question hangs in the air perhaps a beat too long before Twohey answers; The film doesn’t need that kind of manufactured drama. (The screenplay is by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, based on Twohey and Kantor’s 2019 account of their investigation.) But most importantly, Schrader — who also directed the grandiose bittersweet romantic comedy i am your man– ensures that the gears rotate smoothly. In one of the film’s best, albeit lighter moments, Twohey and Kantor, ready to knock on the doors of some unsuspecting potential sources, have ditched their dark skirts and pants of the workday in favor of less intimidating gear: They laugh as they realize they’re We’re both wearing similar white summer dresses and flat sandals. But what they eventually achieve is serious business. Twohey and Kantor’s reporting paved the way for more of Weinstein’s victims to come forward; In 2020, he was convicted of two crimes, including rape, and is currently serving a 23-year sentence. These women, through hard work and a few strokes of luck, have clinched a reporting victory: the cell phone intentionally left on the restaurant table by a key source, the well-known actress who, at the eleventh hour, decided to go on record with her story . That’s how journalism works. And sometimes the little girls waiting for you at home are part of your motivation.

More must-reads from TIME


Contact us at letters@time.com.

Leave a Comment