She Said Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Based on the real investigative reports of New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey, this biopic tells the real expose of Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual abuse against women.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Maria Schrader
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Morton, Ashley Judd, Angela Yeoh, Peter Friedman & Zach Grenier.
Run Time: 129 min.
US Release: 18 November 2022
UK Release: 25 November 2022
German Release: 08 December 2022
I am a fan of features like All the President’s Men or Spotlight, as I studied journalism myself, loving the investigative angle of it. Naturally, I was looking forward to the release of this biographical adaptation, of the exploratory process and final expose of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct in the movie business. Having finally seen it last night in theatres, I was more than happy with what we obtained, even if it does have slight issues. So, grab your reading glasses, as we jump right into my review for She Said.
In 2017, New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor pics up on allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, from internet chatter about Rose McGowen writing a book. Feeling that there is more to the story, she brings in colleague Megan Towhey and together, they uncover one of Hollywood’s most terrible secrets, surrounding producer Harvey Weinstein.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, this movie is extremely well-written! It is based on the findings of the New York Times investigations, as well as the book, written by the two lead reporters, on the accounts that transpired over their explorations. It also helped me better understand what happened in 2017, prior to the #MeToo movement. I was aware of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, though, not exactly how it was exposed.
She Said takes the laid-back directorial style from Spotlight, pairing it with the thriller-like atmosphere of All the President’s Men. The narrative unfolds naturally, without the need to use devices that progress the plot artificially. At the same time, elements of tension are laced in that give the subject matter a sense of urgency and threat, without ever losing focus on what it wants to tell audiences. The content is taken very seriously, respecting the victims as well as making sure that their stories are being heard.
The authenticity of the journalistic working atmosphere is surreal, which might be because some scenes were filmed inside the newspaper's headquarters. However, one of my criticisms is that it glorifies the journalistic trade a little too much. Specifically, the New York Times, which it represents as a hall of heroes. Being a journalist myself, I can say that our trade is not flawless at all. Then there are the first twenty minutes, which are a little choppy as an introduction, making it difficult to follow what is happening.
The dialogues are realistic, including segments of recorded audiotapes between Harvey and his victims. The interviews held by the two leads, with victims or sources, add to the suspense, that carries the plot.
The complete cast is stellar, giving powerful performances. That said, it focused so much on the investigation, sidelining some of the more personal aspects of the reporters, which are only hinted at. A shame because it would have helped the characters, which are based on real people, to have more depth.
Carey Mulligan gives an incredibly driven performance as Megan Twohey. You do believe that she is an experienced journalist, who is very grounded, nearly like an unmovable rock, withstanding all amounts of pressure professionally. Unfortunately, her private life is just glossed over, making it hard to connect with her on a personal level. That said, her chemistry with co-actress Zoe Kazan is off the charts, which makes sense, given that they are friends for fourteen years.
Zoe Kazan gives an equally impressive rendition as reporter Jodi Kantor. Contrary to Twohey, Kantor is emotionally more attached to this piece, thus breaking more easily when hitting a dead end. Kazan does a great job at re-enacting that humane sensitivity. It also helped to bond more with this person, as the picture focuses more on her private life.
Patricia Clarkson was cast as Rebecca Corbett, the editor of the NYT, who is standing by her writers giving them the support they need. Clarkson gives a strong interpretation of her character, though never overshadows the two leads.
Andre Braugher is criminally underused in this premise! He has some of the best lines, which he delivers with an enigmatic force. He fully transforms into an executive editor of a publishing giant, not letting ominous threats from film producers silence his newspaper.
As stated above, the camera work of the movie is second-hand. Director of photography Natasha Braier intentionally takes a more grounded approach that stayed true to the narrative it told, without trying to leave Hollywood’s mark on the product. Impressive are the cuts to empty hotel hallways, rooms with unfinished plates of food on the table, or simply the running of a hotel shower, interlaced with recorded audio footage of Weinstein, leaving the rest to the imagination of the viewer. It is an intense, artistic choice of style that creates a feeling of discomfort!
The music by Nicholas Britell is subtle but dramatic enough to carry weight. The piano, strings and bass, create a mysteriously threatening plus melancholic note.
Verdict: Maria Schrader’s first Hollywood production is a strong one, using the book of the same name, as a basis to adapt the process of research, of the two Pulitzer-winning journalists. The story is down to earth, telling a realistic account of how Towhey and Kantor, slowly uncovered the sexual abuse against women by Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein. Issues arise along its introductory twenty minutes, which are hard to get into, as it is sloppily edited. The performances are grounded, yet powerful enough to ignite an emotional bond between the reporters and the audiences. Cinematography plus music are subtle, invoking a feeling of dramatic urgency. This bio-pic is currently struggling at the box office, however, it is worth giving it a watch! It is out in German cinemas right now, so if you like a suspenseful adaptation about real journalism, please go and see it. She Said obtains a well-deserved 8.5 out of 10.
Have you seen this biographical drama yet? What did you think? Leave a comment below & as always, thank you very much for reading!