A confronting, all too authentic account of the early days lock picking the Pandora’s box surrounding Miramax’s open secret. Enlightening, infuriating, and victorious.
She Said, written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and directed by Maria Schrader, took a risk going in. It could have been a disservice to the now historical events surrounding the #metoo movement that swept the world on the back of the 2017 New York Times investigative expose, painting the beginning of the end for serial sexual predator, Harvey Weinstein. Thankfully, the film is everything but a disservice to the many victims and associates affected by his crimes.
It would be amiss to claim that these events created the movement (#metoo has existed since approximately 2006), but the rapidly failing Hollywood system that enabled abusers buckled under pressure because of the exposure.
The film stars Carey Mulligan (Drive) as Megan Twohey and Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks) as Jodi Kantor. Megan is a seasoned investigative journalist and unofficially specialising in convincing others to allow the paper to name them as a source. Megan is also facing a new challenge, motherhood. Jodi’s career as an editor and author quickly crosses over to the investigative work under Megan’s guidance, as they work together to gather enough support to pursue this story toward its now foregone conclusion. Jodi has two children, an experienced mother. Together they support each other both professionally and personally.
The pacing of events is solid. The film could have leaned heavily in to predictable drama and hyperbole, this is happily avoided. What we have is a solid presentation of the method, the working machine as Jodi and Megan hit the bricks tirelessly, facing stone wall and cinder block in a quest to convince people to talk. What they find is a literal Pandora’s box, all glitz and full of promise on the outside while its soul is a damaging evil that disappears dreams at the click of someone’s fingers. Or as it is told, a roar of his voice.
A Warning, She Said pulls no punches in the telling of what actually happened. By those who experienced it, Ashley Judd plays herself. Real recordings of coercion and gas lighting are presented. These aren’t all reenactments with actresses cast as celebrity. Anybody with a basic level of human empathy will feel their fear and feel enraged. It is difficult not to cry while hearing, seeing that pain.
Then there’s the denial. The legal threats. The dismissal from all around and the intimidation. But as we know, Megan and Jodi push through. The victims push through and together they regain their voice. This is the pulse of the story, women standing up as one.
There is excellent direction during the film. Panning empty hotel halls, across unused or discarded champagne tray and over turned furniture while listening to anxious accounts of abuse and rape. The film mostly plays it straight but every now and then the imagery is striking, such as Zach Grenier (The Good Fight, Law and Order) departing the story illuminated by an Exit sign.
It would have been nice to see more of Megan and Jodi’s home life, particularly struggling to maintain the balance of family relationship while giving everything they have day and night to their work. Those conflicts were glossed over with some comedy relief, or mostly discarded.
She Said, as well as the book by Megan and Jodi that this film is based on, is a perfect starting point for anyone interested in where the ongoing Weinstein saga began. Or, as a demonstration for anybody who is still confused in 2022 about how No, definitely means No.
She Said rates a good 8/10 shady non-disclosure agreements.