‘She Said’ review: A film about an investigation that ignites a movement

1:07 pm on 12 November 2022, Saturday

By Ryan Louis Mantilla 

Harvey Weinstein was once a Hollywood giant, but after a sexual assault investigation, he now serves a lengthy prison term. The movie inspired by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's New York Times best-selling investigative journalism piece, "She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement," has explored one of the most significant stories in Hollywood—a story that shattered a long-standing culture of sexual harassment in the industry, which, in return, modified the American work culture forever.

Simplified into "She Said," the film stars Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as the two journalists who tried to take down Harvey Weinstein—an American film producer, a giant in the industry, a Hollywood mogul, and now a convicted sex offender, thanks to those who stood up to fight the industry’s serial predator. However, the film does not feel as triumphant as it should, which contradicts how it was advertised: as a #MeToo movement film.

Kantor and Twohey's groundbreaking exposé launched the #MeToo movement, yet the film lacks victory. The film, directed by Maria Schrader, follows the two journalists as they work with editors and other reporters to try to get all of the victims to speak on the record to make their story credible, which could prevent Weinstein from committing another heinous crime. The film begins in the early 1990s with a woman on the set of a movie which quickly becomes extremely distressed after a terrible occurrence. The film then jumps ahead, bringing us to more recent incidents connected with the opening scene.

The New York Times’ revolutionary exposé encouraged all victims to tell their story and interrogate the "systems that protect abusers." The investigative report exposed Weinstein’s history of sexual abuse against women in the industry, and it also helped ignite the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein has produced various sought-after films, including Scream, Kill Bill, Good Will Hunting, Planet Terror, and Pulp Fiction, to mention a few. Of course, with many successful titles under his belt, it’s easy for him to use his power to force women into having sexual encounters with him, as Twohey and Kazan reported in their 3,321-word story.

By any means, "She Said" didn’t delve much deeper into Weinstein’s downfall. Instead, it showcased the struggles of the two journalists, who were trying to break a story about the industry’s powerful man. Although the film has its moments, it also failed to dig deeper into the victims' stories and how the story's publication started a movement that would change the world forever.

The film became more of a newspaper publication drama than a #MeToo movement-focused film. Although, understandably, the story of Weinstein’s long-standing sexual abuses—and his multiple victims—is almost impossible to fit into a full-length film. Nevertheless, there are certainly better ways to incorporate the stories of the two journalists and the victims in an equal manner. The film became so preoccupied with the process of breaking the story that the ending lacked a scene of victory to be delivered to where it’s due: the victims. 

Regardless, it is still important for everyone to get a glimpse of how slow the whole process was for the victims and the journalists who worked tirelessly to break the story—an investigation that sparked a significant movement. On a lighter note, "She Said," being a slow-burn film, is necessary at its best, considering how it took decades for Weinstein to get what he deserves. "She Said" is a great example of a film that makes investigative journalism appear more exciting than it is.
"She Said" never really shows Weinstein's face throughout the entire film, which is a captivating choice for a film that avoids showing much of the face of the known, convicted predator. What makes the film so intriguing is how it focuses on how powerful men in Hollywood were, being able to abuse women prior to the groundbreaking "Me Too" movement.

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan's performances are undeniably effective. Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher, who play the New York Times' editorial staff, are also standouts in the supporting cast. Clearly, "She Said" is a journalist's story, but the film’s serious flaw is its lack of compassion for Weinstein’s victims, blurring the line of what "She Said" really means: if it’s about what the victim said or what the two journalists wrote. But, of course, both are significant—but they could have been highlighted equally. 

The film will hit theaters on November 23.


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