Friday 20 January 2023

She Said (2022)

It's always good to see a movie about investigative journalism, not least due to the fact that any such movie serves as a reminder that we still HAVE some investigative journalism. I cannot think of a time when the quest for truth and justice has been more noble, especially when juxtaposed against "news" that is simply made up of repurposed social media quotes, sensational headlines that are designed as clickbait, and opinion pieces placing the outlets in whatever "culture war" position they think will be most profitable for them. I enjoyed Spotlight from a few years ago, but She Said may just edge ahead of it as the better movie, perhaps because the story it is telling was picked up more eagerly by every major news outlet once the details were widely available.

Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan play Jodi Kanto and Megan Twohey, respectively, two investigative journalists who work for the New York Times. Their names may be familiar to you. They are the two people who pulled together various witness testimonies to build up a picture of sexual abuse, manipulation, and bullying that eventually landed Harvey Weinstein in prison. This film details how the story broke, and how it took the courage of victims to come forward and tell their truth, helping others to subsequently realise that they weren't alone, and that they could also come forward and do their bit to help make a criminal pay for his heinous crimes.

The talented Rebecca Lenkiewicz delivers another very good screenplay, helped by the book co-written by Kantor and Twohey, and Maria Schrader directs well, keeping her shot choice and framing interesting, without being distractingly overly stylised, and she knows to keep the focus on her cast delivering the pertinent points and evidence-backed facts.

Kazan is good, solid in her role, but Mulligan is given some better moments and is the better of the two leads (and it feels like a dry companion piece to her superb work in Promising Young Woman). Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher are both very good in supporting roles, playing the New York Times senior staff members who allow the story to be investigated, and ensure that everything complies with legal requirements, and you have Keilly McQuail delivering a fine impression of Rose McGowan over the phone, Samantha Morton being very effective in her one main scene, as Zelda Perkins, Jennifer Ehle portraying Laura Madden, a pivotal figure in the development of the story, and Ashley Judd as herself, a movie role that I suspect may have been very cathartic and satisfying for her to play.

She Said doesn't only show the hard work and sensitivity that was required in handling such a shocking exposé, it also shows how events and public figures seemed to create the darkest possible moment for women everywhere. Things aren't exactly sweetness and light now, of course, but it feels like 2016 - 2020 were years in which misogyny and abuse seemed at an all-time high. Assholes were emboldened by one of their own being elected President, and a general change in language and tone showed that what should have been a unifying movement, the #metoo campaign, was going to be used as another line in the sand for those individuals wanting to lash out at everyone as they tried to plant their "not all men" flag on a hill that really didn't need it.

There may not be anything flashy or too memorable here, not when it comes to the film-making itself, but this is an excellent film that serves as an essential snapshot. It's a snapshot of bravery, tenacity, and good grace held by those standing up to an abusive bully (who surely thought he was untouchable). It's a snapshot of a moment when the tide turned. It may have only been for a few brief seconds, but it turned. 


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