The true scandal of sexual misconduct at Fox News and the women who brought down the powerful man who built the conservative television empire is brought to life, sordid details and all, in “Bombshell.” It’s an uncomfortable but empowering movie to watch, but nearly an entire two hours are spent preaching loudly to the liberal choir.
This is the perfect time for a strong feminist-angled movie, but there are so many crowding the already cramped field. It’s great that major studios are rushing to fill their slate with such a timely topic, and it’s a conversation that thankfully society is now openly having, but it’s starting to feel like many of these films are getting lost in the shuffle.
Director Jay Roach employs some creative storytelling that follows a mostly linear timeline, blending re-creations and well-placed archival footage to tell the story. The film has a similar feel to 2015’s “The Big Short,” with internal voiceover so the audience can hear the character’s thoughts and breaking the fourth wall. It’s this too-cutesy storytelling that undermines the feminist message.
The film is fast paced and briskly zips through the timeline of the first accusations, to head honcho Roger Ailes’s (John Lithgow) legal battles, to his eventual demise. It’s well-told and engaging, and there isn’t much to dislike about watching strong women take a stand and fight a culture of harrasment that stems from the top office. The importance of women supporting each other and refusing to remain silent, especially when powerful men are preying on the vulnerabilities of young females, is expressed perfectly and doesn’t feel like an after school special. Of course, all of this will sadly be relatable to many women who are currently or have ever been struggling to get ahead in the workplace.
The cast (Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson) are dead-ringers for the actual Fox television personalities, but it’s hard to evaluate performances, no matter how skilled, when they’re buried under lookalike makeup. Awards season voters love work like this, but an impersonation of a well-known public figure doesn’t wow me as much as creating a whole character from scratch. Yes, Theron has Kelly’s gravelly voice down pat, Kidman copies Carlson’s mannerisms perfectly, and Lithgow looks so much like Ailes that it’s downright creepy, but it’s telling that Margot Robbie (as a compilation of several different employees) is the standout among these huge Hollywood names.
The film is ultimately a call to action that should inspire many to come forward. It’s up to us to support them and believe them when they do.