“Bombshell”

LOUISA:  3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

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.

7 comments

  1. “But nearly an entire two hours are spent preaching loudly to the liberal choir.” There’s a word for this: Propaganda.

    Within five seconds of the trailer, I knew this would be the case. Then more details about the film have come to light and I think I pass on this one.

    1. Kate McKinnon’s character is a fictional closet lesbian and closet liberal who is afraid to share her views at the network. Have the filmmakers never of heard of Shepard Smith, who is openly gay and liberal, and who was at the network since its inception?

    2. Megyn Kelly has now devoted her time in battling sexual harrassment in the workplace. Could Charlize Theron have done something else other than badmouth Megyn simply because she worked at Fox? So predictable.

    3. Margo Robbie’s character is also fictional. I really don’t understand why a fictional main character is necessary if the story is so compelling.

    That’s just a few problems I have with the film so far.

    I’ll be waiting for Jay Roach to do a film on Matt Lauer and/or Harvey Weinstein.

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  2. I know you’re not conservative which is why that comment really confirmed my suspicions about this film. I lost all interest in seeing it within the first five seconds of the trailer. (Perhaps you might recognize what the offending line was). I’ve seen some of Jay Roach’s other politically based films and I noticed a pattern in all of them. Portray your political opponents in the worst possible light throughout the film. Throw in a few lines of legitimate arguments that your opponents use – just so that the film looks objective and impartial.

    Rinse. Repeat.

    I might see it just to see Charlize impersonate Megyn Kelly. Btw, in case you’re interested, this Ms. Kelly’s initial thoughts on the film. While she doesn’t slam it, she expresses concerns over the film, while acknowledging the importance of telling the story. https://www.instagram.com/p/B6Bt8fEHJ_K/

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  3. Charlize Theron looked like Megyn Kelly, but she was way off (definitely not a “dead ringer”) when she spoke. There will be side by side videos of the two and it’s quite clear she missed a lot of the vocal tics. Bummer too, because the makeup job is fantastic.

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      1. I haven’t had TV for years, but followed Trump’s weird obssession and his pig-headed comments with her on the election path. I got pretty use to her baritone voice, accented pauses and slightly nasally voice. Charlize didn’t have those details, unfortunately, which threw me off because like I said in the first comment, the makeup is top notch. She was transformed better than Zellweger in JUDY. Kazu Hiro needs an award for the prosthetic work.

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