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She Said (A Movie Review)

SHE SAID (2022)

Starring Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Morton, Ashley Judd, Sean Cullen, Angela Yeoh, Tom Pelphrey, Adam Shapiro, Anastasia Barzee, Mike Houston, Sarah Ann Masse, Hilary Greer, Tina WongLu, Nancy Ellen Shore, Sujata Eyrick and the voices of James Austin Johnson and Kelly McQuail.

Screenplay by Rebecca Lenkiewicz.

Directed by Maria Schrader.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 129 minutes. Rated R.

With journalism in general in a rather bad place, it’s always nice to find a quality movie that celebrates the hard work and determination of investigative journalism. There have been some classics over the years – All the President’s Men, Spotlight, The Post, The Insider, Zodiac, Good Night and Good Luck and many others.

As I noted years ago in my review of Spotlight: “While the newspaper business has taken a huge hit in the internet age, true investigative journalism is more important than ever – if much harder to find. Everyone on the internet thinks they can write, and they are an expert – and this is coming from someone who writes on the internet – but real reporting is hard to find in a world where TMZ and Fox ‘News’ pass as legitimate media.”

We can now add another winner to list of investigative journalism films with She Said. The film looks at the two New York Times investigative reporters -- Megan Twohey (played by Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (played by Zoe Kazan) – who helped to expose the entire Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal which was a huge building block in the #MeToo movement. (In fairness, at about the same time reporter Ronan Farrow also shone a light on the Weinstein situation in his story for The New Yorker, a fact which is mostly but not completely acknowledged in She Said. They pointed out that Farrow was working on it at the same time as the Times reporters, but do not discuss whether his story ever eventually came out.)

And it was a big story, one that was overlooked and covered up for decades. As the world has learned, greatly through the efforts of these reporters, Harvey Weinstein, co-owner with his brother of the popular art-house film studio Miramax Studios, and later of The Weinstein Company, was a serial sexual predator. He used his money and power to sexually extort many women he had dealings with – from stars like Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Gwyneth Paltrow to employees of his studio. He was a rich, powerful, vindictive man who could destroy a woman who did not succumb to his demands.

However, while Weinstein has a huge presence in this film, he is rarely seen or heard – just a few audio calls and a brief scene where an actor playing the exec is only seen from the back. The film tries to scrupulous with its accuracy, getting actress/victim Ashley Judd to portray herself and often using actual audio of depositions and discussions with Weinstein instead of using an imitation. (The film does use voice actors to portray actress Rose McGowan and fellow alleged sex offender Donald Trump, however.)

Instead the film focuses on the dogged determination of the reporters to track down this story despite near constant roadblocks. It also looks deeply at the bravery and devastation of the victims. However, since many of the victims have been paid off and forced to sign nondisclosure agreements, one of the hardest parts of the reporters’ work is to find someone who is willing to go on the record about the abuse. For a long, long time, no one will.

However, there is a natural sense of drama and suspense as we see the reporters putting together the pieces of a story which is much bigger than they had ever imagined, while at the same time having to balance out their lives and their families.

She Said is a terrific reminder of how important serious investigative journalism is, particularly in a world where every criminal or charlatan is ever ready to toss out the bullshit term “fake news.” It is a celebration of the news and everything it can and should be (and has been) in a world where it is quickly being left behind.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: November 17, 2022.


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