“She Said” presents a compelling real-life investigation journalism story which was one of the main starters of the #MeToo movement in 2017. While it is often chilling and infuriating to see how one very deplorable (and powerful) man had got away with his sex crimes for many years, the movie also shows how its two real-life heroines came to expose his sex crimes in public thanks to lots of support and solidarity, and we are surely reminded again that women will be not silent about abuse and mistreatment anymore.
That man in question is Harvey Weinstein, who was one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood for many years before being exposed by the New York Times investigation by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, and Rebecca Corbett. As many of you know now, he sexually exploited numerous actresses and female employees and then ruined their careers for more than 20 years, but nobody dared to speak about that due to his considerable power and influence. To be frank with you, I was not so surprised because even I had often heard about his notoriously aggressive personality, but I was shocked nonetheless just like many of you as learning more of what an atrocious bastard he really was.
Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s screenplay, which is based on not only the New York Times investigation itself but also the subsequent nonfiction book of the same name by Kantor and Twohey, quickly sets the tone as depicting how things were quite depressing for Twohey, played by Carey Mulligan, in late 2016. Although she exposed more deplorable aspects of Donald J. Trump via her diligent investigation work, that did not stop that despicable fraud at all from being elected as the President of the United States, and she understandably became quite depressed in addition to struggling with her subsequent postpartum depression.
Anyway, Twohey eventually returns to the New York Times in the next year, and, as recommended by her editor Corbett, played by Patricia Clarkson, she begins to work along with Kantor, played by Zoe Kazan. As many women including Hollywood actress Ashley Judd start to speak out against sexual abuse and mistreatment much more than before, Corbett instructs Twohey and Kantor to delve more into how toxic the movie industry in Hollywood has been to women, and Twohey and Kantor soon come to focus on what has been said about Weinstein by Judd and a few other notable female figures such as Rose McGowan.
The movie calmly follows how Twohey and Kantor become more serious about their latest job as they come across one obstacle after another. For example, they try to contact with a number of women who once worked under Weinstein but then left with no apparent reason, but many of these women are not so willing to talk with them for good reasons. Weinstein and his company have already prevented these women from speaking out via several legal measures including non-disclosure agreement, and we later learn more about how unfair non-disclosure agreement is for these women in many aspects. Because nobody listened to them at all, they usually had no choice but to accept non-disclosure agreement, and that legally forced silence and compliance upon them.
Fortunately, Twohey and Kantor eventually come across a few other women willing to tell more besides Judd and McGowan. In case of Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton), this former Weinstein employee is ready to tell not only what she witnessed but also how she could not stop Weinstein, and she also leads Twohey and Kantor to another figure who may also tell a lot to them. In case of Laura Madden (Jennifer Ehle), she feels quite conflicted as coping with her recent serious illness, but she eventually agrees to reveal everything in public mainly because, unlike many survivors of Weinstein’s sex crimes, she is luckily not limited by non-disclosure agreement.
Meanwhile, Twohey and Kantor and many others in the New York Times become more aware of their powerful opponent, who is apparently ready to stop the investigation as much as possible. While often emphasizing how impertinent he was at that time, the movie wisely does not pay any attention to him even when he visits the New York Times not long before the article is eventually published, and the camera simply focuses on Twohey’s face from the distance as Twohey silently but resilently endures her very disagreeable meeting with Weinstein and his associates.
Although we already know how the story ends, the movie continues to hold our attention under the skillful direction of director Maria Schrader, who recently won an Emmy for her acclaimed German Netflix TV series “Unorthodox”. Like Tom McCarthy’s Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” (2015), it admirably steps aside for its story and characters to develop and advance without getting too dramatic at all, and Schrader also draws stellar performances from its main cast members. While Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan earnestly hold the center, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, and Samantha Morton are also solid in their respective key supporting roles, and Ashley Judd, who plays herself in the film, has a poignant moment when she comes to make a brave decision which helps Twohey and Kantor a lot at the last minute.
In conclusion, “She Said” is worthwhile to watch for its efficient storytelling and good performances, and I appreciate how it handles its important main subject with enough care and respect. Although it does not reach to the level of “Spotlight” or “All the President’s Men” (1976), the movie did an exemplary job on the whole, and you should check it out especially if you care about good journalism.