James Lindorff review
On November 18th, Universal Pictures kicks off Oscar season with the drama “She Said.” October 5th, 2017 started like any other day. Then a New York Times article led to the fall of a Hollywood heavyweight and revitalized a decade-old phrase that would see millions of women proclaim their “me too.”
Two-time Academy Award nominees Carey Mulligan (The Young Woman of Promise) and Zoe Kazan (The Big Patient) play New York Times reporters Megan Twohy and Judy Kantor, who together break one of the most important stories in a generation. And they have a Pulitzer to prove it. The Academy has a history of beloved films about investigative journalists who break major stories, with “All the President’s Men” (1976) and “Spotlight” (2015) both picking up top prizes. She Said might just be the frontrunner for Best Picture, and no one should be shocked to see one or both of Mulligan and Kazan nominated for Best Actress.
From the energy of the newsroom to the endless emails, phone calls, and miles required to gather information and earn a source’s trust, director Maria Schrader understands the finer points of investigative journalism. When you combine these details with a great cast that puts on some of the best performances of their careers, you have a recipe for something unique. Instead of hitting us with one tragic story after another, Schrader and writer Rebecca Linkiewicz focused on the journalists. Their failures and successes, their home lives, and the emotional impact of their work on this weighty subject.
While “She Said” should get a Best Picture nomination, there are reasons to expect it to fail in its lofty aims. Shredder does its best to synthesize energy and tension, but with a 135-minute runtime, it falters. The story and book are published about the writing of the article, Harvey is in prison, and with so much of the film delving into the details of the press, there is nothing here that surprises or shocks. Their home lives could have been easily removed from the film to shorten the running time and keep the focus on the investigation. Twohey has postpartum depression, possibly because she did in real life, but it has no bearing on the movie. Kantor is busy with her work, sometimes ignores her husband, and makes a surprising conversation with her daughter, but neither of them are particularly funny or touching.
The applause has to go to Ashley Judd not only for scoring in the original report but for appearing in the film. She doubles down on bravery, ensuring that people never forget what Harvey and Hollywood did to her. The odd choice was to have the actors portray real-life characters, including Rose McGowan and Donald Trump. Gwyneth Paltrow has been referenced frequently but does not appear or receive the impersonation treatment. Paltrow should have been axed because she brings nothing to the movie, and the rest could have been dialogue between the reporters. One thing it did provide was many opportunities for impressive phone representation. The best voice work comes when Schrader uses Weinstein’s real voice from a 2015 recording of his model and actor Ambra Patilana Gutierrez entering his hotel room. It is brutal to hear a real example of his insistence and manipulation from his position of power over these women.
She Said manages to be both powerful and disappointing. It’s a story and action that shouldn’t leave the spotlight, and the acting is phenomenal. However, it lacks the flair and flavor of a movie that will either stand the test of time or cry out for repeat viewing. “She Said” earns 4 out of 5 and could be a trip to Tahrir Bay from being a perfect movie.
Series Rating: Drama
Original language: English
Director: Maria Schrader
Producer: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
Author: Rebecca Linkiewicz
Release date: November 18, 2022
Run time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
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