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she said

★★★★

starring: zoe kazan, carey mulligan, Samantha morton, and andre braugher

 

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor break one of the most important stories in a generation — a story that helped launch the #MeToo movement and shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood.

She Said is a fierce biographical drama exploring the trials faced by the journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor in their investigative reporting for the New York Times of the history of abuse and sexual misconduct against women perpretated by Harvey Weinstein, a powerful and influential figure in the American film industry. Due in part to the Pulitzer Prize reporting by Kantor and Twohey, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2020.

 

Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan play Kantor and Twohey respectively and She Said relishes their talents with director Maria Schrader cultivating excellent performances from her two leads. Kazan portrays Kantor as an earnest and endearing person, yet a dogged reporter; Mulligan’s Twohey is a seasoned veteran of serious journalism, who encourages Kantor with her experience and zeal.

 

In a particularly strong moment of the film, it allows its characters growth with Kantor providing advice and support to Twohey, a new mother struggling with postpartum depression and her decision to return to work. This moment of role reversal felt like a point in which the two leads took equal footing in their sisyphean challenge of Weinstein, the titan of industry that had such a stranglehold on the truth.

 

She Said is an undeniably powerful film, made all the more so by references to real life victims of Weinstein that we recognise as famous and influential Hollywood actresses, clearly illustrating the power of the man if he could get away with such abhorrent behaviour for so long.

 

The film’s use of Ashley Judd is itself powerful, with the actor portraying herself and her involvement with the movement against Weinstein. Though in one of the only points of criticism I can level at the film is that at certain points it can regress a little too far into melodrama, ultimately robbing it of the power of a film like 2015’s Spotlight, which explored the reporting of the Boston Globe into historic sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic Preists. Unfortunately one of these moments in She Said is the film’s handling of Ashley Judd’s involvement with Kantor and Twohey’s reporting. 

 

With excellent performances from Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan, She Said is an engaging and powerful story of dogged reporting and the challenge of unjust power. 

★★★★