The best journalism films emphasize rigorous research and literary integrity, with “truth” clearly spelled out as the guiding principle and ultimate purpose of such investigations, and “justice” as their primary effect. she said follows suit, but also develops a very personal and empathetic tone – more social and compassionate and intimate, more headlight and less All the President’s men or The post.
The film, directed by Maria Schrader, is about how two New York Times Reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the story of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long pattern of abuse and assault on his female employees and colleagues. Central to the film’s thesis is that, as high-profile as the setting and actors, the circumstances are also clearly workplace harassment cases – a horrible thing that happens anywhere and can happen to anyone.
We meet investigative reporters Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Kantor (Zoe Kazan) as experts at writing exposés on exploitation, cover-ups and abuse. Kantor has written about workplaces like Starbucks and Amazon, while Twohey recently published the story about Donald Trump’s longstanding pattern of “disturbing workplace behavior” and inappropriate behavior towards women. Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly’s exposé of Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly’s longstanding pattern of workplace misconduct prompts Kantor to seek similar environments. It’s not long before she stumbles upon information about Hollywood producer and Miramax CEO Harvey Weinstein and, encouraged by her bosses Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson) and Dean Baquet (Andre Braugher), recruits Twohey to help her with the to examine things.
What they uncover is stunning – more than a pattern, but a whole system of abuse. Settlements and payouts have silenced most witnesses and victims, while many others fear retribution. The two journalists follow numerous cases – from Miramax employees to celebrities like Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rose McGowan. If women rejected Weinstein, he would end their careers. Judd, who plays herself, talks about her experience of being blacklisted by Weinstein after rejecting his persistent advances.
The film, scripted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and based on Kantor and Twohey’s subsequent book about their investigation, is smart and loving with a tone of solidarity and celebration. All of Weinstein’s victims are discussed and portrayed with respect, and the film wisely never portrays Weinstein’s actions visually; do not abuse or be abused actor mimes. There is no trace of sensationalism.
While Kantor and Twohey are not portrayed as victims of abusers, they are also accused of knowing all too well the hardships women go through on a daily basis, let alone speaking out. They are intimidated by men before and after they start dealing with Miramax (particularly Twohey, who is threatened with rape and murder by an angry MAGA stranger after writing the Trump story, and berated by Trump himself becomes). Kantor is followed by a black SUV (probably sent by Weinstein) as she walks home alone at night. Twohey is hit on by an aggressive man at a bar who taunts her when she angrily rebuffs him. And outside of work, both women have family problems: Kantor leads a hectic life as a mother of two little girls, while Twohey suffers from postpartum depression after the birth of their first child. The film fails to distinguish between the women who literally fell victim to Weinstein (and Trump) and the women who didn’t, repeatedly emphasizing that when a single woman is hurt, it matters to all women.
There is no trace of sensationalism.
Mulligan gives one of her best performances as Twohey – who could easily have been a standard character, a cool girl who’s tough as nails but is instead a complicated character grappling with her own very realistic feelings about family, motherhood and work . She’s healing herself a little by returning to her job after raising her baby girl – just one of the many ways the film explores how work and “the workplace” should be a safe, healthy place where women can thrive.
Kazan’s performance as cantor is unfailingly candid, while Clarkson and Braugher are perfect as two people who absolutely work in a newsroom. (As a sweet touch of authenticity, Clarkson wears the kind of bundled, large pearl necklaces Corbett seems to wear in life.) But the film’s standouts come from Jennifer Ehle, Angela Yeoh, and especially Samantha Morton, who play older versions of three of them Weinstein’s victims of the ’90s—young employees of his who felt powerless at his treatment, whose lives were derailed and nearly ruined by his influence. Morton’s scene is captivating – channeling steely determination, crushing heartbreak, raw anger and silent devastation into a single conversation – and once again makes me wish the Oscars had a “small appearances or guest appearances” category.
The film shakes a bit formally, through no fault of its own, but due to its proximity to the events themselves. The Kantor Twohey story was only published five years ago, on October 5, 2017 (and five days later a New Yorker Article on Ronan Farrow’s investigation into Weinstein). Although Weinstein’s crimes date back decades, the investigation is relatively new and affects people currently active in Hollywood. As such, the film bears a patina of industrial trepidation; The involvement of the (famous) victims themselves feels hesitant and somewhat limited. Only Judd appears as herself, while Gwyneth Paltrow appears in the voiceover via phone call and Rose McGowan appears in the voiceover, played by an actress (Kelly McQual). Performing for Judd (and to some extent Paltrow) their own real, past trauma is an act of incredible bravery.
Weinstein appears in the film but is voiced and played by Mike Houston, except in one instance, in a voiceover of Weinstein meeting real-life model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who wore wire and was working with the NYPD after Weinstein assaulted her before. (Twohey and Kantor were unable to obtain the recording for their own article, but Farrow did. In the film, it provides more context than evidence.) Donald Trump is voiced by SNL Actor and Donald Trump impersonator James Austin Johnson. Famous actresses like Mulligan, Kazan, Clarkson, Ehle and Morton play “common people”, not celebrities. Ultimately, these isolated types of performance and involvement make the film feel cobbled together and overly thoughtful at times, overshadowed by the strains of veracity and the personal and legal limitations of the parties involved.
The film might have been less burdened by questions in support of Hollywood if it had been shot more than five years after the events of the investigation — even ten years into the future when all of the characters might have been played by different actors to avoid questions Representation whole.
This is certainly not going away she said‘s constant preoccupation with the representation of a “journalistic ethics”. At a time when reporters are threatened by angry populations they serve, she said seems determined to uncover the ethical and sympathetic practices that go into working on a story like this. Twohey and Kantor are portrayed as professionals with clear boundaries (there’s a scene where Kantor almost takes the questioning too far and then dramatically curls back up).
The film understands and sympathizes with women who cannot speak (or even speak to Twohey and Kantor) because they are bound by non-disclosure agreements or fear of retaliation. And everywhere that New York Times is portrayed as an unassailable machine of truth, a bastion of thorough research and fact-checking. The film does not raise a grain of suspicion, doubt or disbelief as to any of its proceedings; it’s not even really about “finding the truth.” It’s about “reporting the truth”.
If anything is clearest, it’s about how women can have their past, present and future snatched from them easily at the whim of a powerful man – but also how solidarity can stand up brilliantly. The film wants to tell women that they are not alone in what they are experiencing. in the she saidWomen listen to each other, fight for each other and help everyone in the process.