What ‘She Said’ means by investigative journalism – The Atlantic | Team Cansler

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning synopsis of producer Harvey Weinstein was undeniably momentous. Your investigative reporting for The New York Times has helped kickstart a cultural reckoning of sexual harassment and abuse across a variety of industries. In 2019, the duo chronicled their work in the book She said: Uncovering the history of sexual harassment helped spark a movement. They wrote about reviewing court settlements, non-disclosure agreements, and memos; agonizing over their wording in texts and emails to sources; and chased information crumbs for three years. The richly detailed narrative is compelling but inherently uncinematic.

But when it came time to adapt the material for the big screen, director Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz felt the meticulousness of Kantor and Twohey’s work was crucial. Schrader knew the sheer volume of dialogue they had to include. “But I was never nervous about it,” the director told me. “The more you learn about all of these steps… the more you [realize that they were uncovering] a nightmare.” Finally, according to Lenkiewicz, her relentless reporting revealed the sensibility of the story, which is what journalism’s best cinematic portrayals should do. “It wasn’t just about journalism,” she said headlight, one such film that she admires. “It was about voices that are not heard.”

she said, is therefore not a triumphant film about the rise of the #MeToo movement, but a clear, measured account of why that first article struck a chord. Such a cool touch has resulted in the film struggling to sell to audiences, as reflected in last weekend’s meager box office. still she said is a valuable introduction to the journalism film genre. The thoroughness of Kantor and Twohey provided a model not only for journalism but for compassion. Schrader and Lenkiewicz approached their adaptation in the same way, tracking the emotional reality of the reporters’ experiences. The film shows how Jodi (played by Zoe Kazan) and Megan (Carey Mulligan) went from working as colleagues to becoming dependent on one another for support, and how hearing about trauma over and over again took a toll on both of them. she said is less about reenacting Weinstein’s harassment and abuse and more about demonstrating the value of active listening. Take away all the headlines that have cropped up around #MeToo, the film demands, and the movement becomes a study in caring. As Lenkiewicz put it, “Even though the story is so dark…there is much beauty and light in women finding each other.”

To get that message across, the film’s creators had to get the journalism right. In one of the strongest scenes, Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton), a former Miramax employee, meets with Jodi for a confidential chat about why she left the company. But before telling her story, she explains the terms of the NDA she signed. An inferior film might have glossed over the subtleties or attempted to boost the suspense with a more flashy performance. she said, but lets the scene run for almost 10 minutes. The details of the NDA are just as important as Zelda’s memories of the work culture; they illustrate how harshly Weinstein’s cohorts reacted to her allegations. Schrader said that she and Lenkiewicz prioritized accurately depicting how sources discussed their experiences. They believed these conversations deserved as much screen time as they did in the book — that if these journalists paid as much attention to context, the rest of us can too.

she said The book contains its share of shocking material. As an Oscar-winning mega-producer, Weinstein built an extensive network of powerful people, some of whom helped him Times‘ investigation and some of them have obstructed it. Kantor and Twohey describe how they obtained a copy of a damning memo from a source who went to the bathroom during a meeting at a bar and left his phone on purpose for Kantor. The authors also recall panicked messages from Gwyneth Paltrow when Weinstein showed up at her home in Hamptons and was attacked by agents from the Israeli intelligence agency Black Cube.

Any one of those moments could have been sensational, and the film allows for a few theatrical flourishes: A black SUV appears to crawl after Jodi as she exits a restaurant, and Megan appeals to a man who doesn’t want to leave her and her colleagues alone in a bar. But such scenes are brief; Lenkiewicz told me their intention was to underscore the pressure that came with the investigation. “There was this wave of anti-journalism [sentiment] … You know, Can news be trusted? Are messages valid?said Lenkiewicz. “I think it’s very important that people know that there are journalists out there who are unstoppable in their search for the truth.”

The film not only recreates the everyday life of journalists; it also captures the serious and matter-of-fact tone of the book. Turning a barrage of emails and texts into realistic, expanded conversations, Lenkiewicz illustrated how sources went from hesitation to trust in the reporters. Schrader, meanwhile, contrasted the cool, low-key footage that accompanied the voiceovers of the survivors — like that of an empty hotel corridor — with the noise inside the building Times Offices. In the editorial office, the constant chatter between editors and writers is marked by an obvious shared respect. The glimpses into Weinstein’s operation, however, are shockingly silent – set in inappropriate places, captured in montages of hastily rearranged hotel rooms, half-eaten meals and abandoned purses. The presentation of these different working environments is subtle but very effective.

The film’s most important move is also its riskiest: she said delves into the private lives of journalists, an element not featured in the book. The film features Megan coping with postpartum depression and Jodi’s shock when her older daughter asks her the word for the first time rape. These sequences broaden our view of the journalists beyond their profession and ground them as characters themselves. That way, Schrader said, when they sit across from survivors and ask them questions, the audience isn’t just watching an interview; You understand how the duo connected to the women they met. Kantor and Twohey’s subjects had to stay off the record, which meant they could not be quoted or credited with anything they shared. But they spoke anyway because they were waiting for the right person to listen. “It would be so much tighter if we just saw two larger-than-life heroines going after the villain,” Schrader explained. The reality is “much more complex”.

she said does not end with Weinstein’s arrest or the collapse of his company; it ends with the publication of the exposé. Rather than fast-forward to a proper epilogue, the film suggests that at this point in 2017, the #MeToo movement faced an uncertain future. Five years after the events depicted, this is still the case. Yes, the coverage led to the producer’s conviction, as well as countless conversations about misogyny, abuse of power, and the systems that protect perpetrators of sexual harassment — but other perpetrators have escaped punishment. Efforts to enact industry-wide solutions like Time’s Up have stalled amid questions about what accountability should look like, particularly for Hollywood’s most influential figures. The film’s credits commemorate this fact: one of the executive producers, Brad Pitt, faces allegations of abuse by his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie. (Pitt’s attorney released a statement denying the allegations.) Schrader was reluctant to comment on Pitt’s involvement, noting that she never met him. But she explained that she intended the film “not to shy away from the complexity and the complicity and the question How involved are you already?

In other words, she said is not complacent; It’s a reminder that empathy can take immense effort and even then, such effort may not result in guaranteed success. In one of the film’s most compelling scenes, Megan accepts a meeting with Weinstein and his attorneys; You must give him the opportunity to reply to this in order to publish the article. Team Weinstein is clearly upset. As the camera zooms in on Megan’s face, the audio fades out. Mulligan puts on a subtle performance while facing this human wall of distraction and denial. She looks determined, then confused, then wary. A touch of resignation crosses her face as she seems to realize that they care more about the welfare of the Weinstein Company than the welfare of the women who work there. The film postulates that there will always be people on the other side of the table. But the ones worth listening to are the ones who have absolutely no power to claim a seat.

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