The film industry has always been seen as something glamourous to aspire to and its little wonder that She Said opens with an enamoured young female intern on a beach location film set, the next scene the same intern is running down a city street traumatized with tears streaming down her face. It transpires that she’s not had to work on another Police Academy film but is one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein. It’s one of several flashbacks and we will catch up with this character Laura Madden (brilliantly played by Jennifer Ehle) to get the back ground to what’s happened.
Suitably enough She Said starts in 2016 when Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) a New York Times journalist has finished investigating her story of Donald Trump’s penchant for grabbing women. Now coping with post-natal depression, it’s her colleague Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), having been tipped off about Rose McGowan’s rape by Weinstein who has started work on investigating further rumours of sexual harassment by the studio boss. Her queries are initially met by denials or just remain unanswered. But it’s from here that the film weaves in the stories of those assistants who suffered first hand at the movie mogul’s behaviour and sexual assaults and it’s their stories that collectively lend the heft and credibility to what would evolve into the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement.
She Said follows in the best tradition of newsroom investigations films most notably the 2016 Oscar winning ‘Spotlight’ and of course the granddaddy. ‘All The Presidents Men’. Based on the book by Kantor & Twohey this is compelling viewing as the reporters go after the story, turning up at the victim’s homes in an effort to get to the bottom of it all with each of the stories often told through flashback. Intimidated, ashamed scared the women tell their story. Samantha Morton as Zelda Perkins and Angela Yeoh as Rowena Chiu are all devastating in their recollections.
It’s the figure of Weinstein that remains an unseen presence , a potential gift of a role for any actor but here is rightly kept away from the limelight and a scene of an empty hotel corridor where what sounds like real life recordings of him trying to coerce female assistants into his room are chilling. There is really only one scene when he does appear turning up unannounced at the journalists offices with his lawyers in tow in an effort to intimidate the paper into backing down and even then it is only the back of his head that is shown. Andre Braugher as the paper’s editor Dean Baquet is great as he remains resolutely impervious to Weinstein’s threats and ego not giving a second thought to hanging up the phone on him which must have infuriated the mogul not used to being dismissed in such a manner. Weinstein’s frequent and frustrated calls to the Editor in his effort to delay or even supress the piece being published are engrossing and his constant questions to the point of obsession as to whether Gwyneth Paltrow had spoken to them are a curiosity. Paltrow does not appear however Ashley Judd who was one of Weinstein’s victims appears as herself.
She Said is film of expectedly good performances with Mulligan the more hard nosed reporter to Kazan’s eager to get to the heart of the story journo both great in their roles. The film has not performed anywhere near as well as it should have in the US which is a shame , and something of a surprise if not concern as She Said is one of the great newsroom films