Important subject matter doesn’t always translate to a good movie, and “She Said” is a botched attempt at retelling the true story of two New York Times reporters who took down the infamous Hollywood abuser, Harvey Weinstein. It’s something with which the industry is very familiar, and the years of sexual misconduct that the two women uncovered is horrifying. It was one of the most important articles to ever run in the newspaper, but this story would be better suited to the page and not the screen.
The film follows writers Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) as they investigate the Miramax movie mogul, trying repeatedly to get big name actresses to go on the record to expose Weinstein’s gross abuse of power. Instead of offering new insight, director Maria Schrader uses the same old newsroom clichés to create a pedestrian investigative journalism film. It’s procedural, boring, and repetitive, with a series of scenes featuring the two leads making phone calls, writing or reading text messages, and sitting in editorial meetings. Of course, this is less than interesting because the story isn’t cinematic: it’s dull.
The film touches on the more interesting aspects of working as a woman in Hollywood, as many of Weinstein’s victims refused to be named on the record because they were terrified they’d never work again. This did happen more often than not, and he either bought or forced their silence. Perhaps if screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz had decided to focus more on the personal dilemmas and fallout his victims faced rather than only briefly touch on them, this would have been a stronger and more powerful movie.
Even worse, the film doesn’t feel timely. The decision to tell this story now seems dated and past its expiration date. Women will always remember the #MeToo movement and it will go down in history as one of the most important feminist campaigns of the 2000s, but many of us would rather forget about Weinstein while he rots away in jail.
Here’s where my biggest problem with the film comes in: the story leaves a really bad taste in my mouth, especially when you stop to realize that many of Weinstein’s employees, friends, and peers either aided in covering up his crimes or even worse, willfully looked the other way. Harvey’s touchy nature and treatment of subordinates was the worst kept secret in Hollywood circles. He was as creep, and many who met him were uncomfortable being in his presence. It feels a bit disingenuous (or perhaps just a bit ironic) to make a movie about it, even if the story’s focus is on the two reporters.
The better parts of the narrative inspire with the proof of the power of journalism to encourage change, and Kantor and Twohey absolutely played a huge part in giving women who were victimized the courage to come forward. Mulligan gives a strong performance, but it’s a shame she didn’t have an equally robust script to work with. Both of the leads feel wasted, especially when they are called on to do little more than rattle off facts and name-drop big actresses who came forward to expose the year of abusive behavior by Weinstein. None of this is a substitute for compelling drama, and “She Said” fades into the void of forgettable procedural journalism films.
By: Louisa Moore