NYFF60: She Said – Reel Talk Inc.

admin2021January 7, 2023

Over the past few years, the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal has been a talking point in the film industry. The gathered evidence against the Hollywood titan assisted in kick-starting the #MeToo movement. One that commenced change in an industry that quite frankly needed it. Since 2016, there has been a change in the workplace of the Hollywood studio system and throughout. While change is constant and the story is yet to be finished on #MeToo, Maria Schrader’s She Said paints an essential picture of the Hollywood hierarchy and gives a voice to the voiceless. A compelling and enthralling story that is a testament to the victims’ strength while calling for women’s truths to be heard and the need for systemic change.

She Said is based on the book by the New York Times’ Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and follows the duo as they investigate allegations against Weinstein. 

Interestingly, the film opens in 2016, when another ghastly human being was being investigated for similar allegations. What is the outcome of those victims coming forward? Well, the man became President of the United States, so nothing came from it.

While it may be off-putting to some, I found the inclusion of the 2016 presidential nominee to be an intriguing entry point to Twohey’s world as it shows both the investigation work and the bravery of these victims coming forward, only for the individual committing these heinous acts to be rewarded with the most critical job in this country.

Once we meet Kantor, she eagerly takes the lead on the rumors Rose McGowan first hinted at on social media regarding being assaulted by a Hollywood titan. Next, Kantor brings Twohey in, and despite her doubt about whether or not change can be made, Twohey joins Kantor as they ripple through former assistants who Weinstein physically and emotionally abused.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s screenplay pens these victims’ stories with respect. Rather than coming off as a self-congratulatory effort, Lenkiewicz’s screenplay offers facts and pulls no punches in the caustic manner Weinstein abused these women, and little to nothing was done by anyone in Hollywood. The mesmerizing aspect of the screenplay is similar to both Spotlight and All The President’s Men, the reveals are sprinkled throughout, and even though many walking into the cinema are aware of the issues at hand, the trail of knowledgeable individuals is quite shocking.

Along with the screenplay, an aspect I quite appreciated was the strength of one of Weinstein’s victims to play herself in the film. For me, it added a layer of authenticity and a stamp of approval. 

Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan offer fantastic performances in bringing empathy to their characters and the victims they meet throughout the film. An unexpected added layer I greatly appreciated was that Lenkiewicz and Schrader stepped away from the grind of this investigation to show both women at home. Both mothers and their understanding of being a parent and the world their children will be growing up in adds another layer to the functionality of the film and its screenplay.

Jennifer Ehle and Samantha Morton are both mesmerizing in their supporting performances. Morton, as Zelda Perkins, an ex-Miramax employee who confronted Weinstein after he raped a fellow employee, and Ehle, an older version of an employee introduced in the film. Each is given gut-punching scenes that illustrate the monster running Miramax. Moreover, it captures Weinstein’s predatory behavior.

She Said doesn’t just cement itself as one of the best films of the year, but one that can crack the Best Picture lineup at the Oscars next year. It’s a film that understands that while this story needs to be told, it’s even more important to remember that the work is not done.

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