‘She Said’ review: The Harvey Weinstein NYT movie no one wants

The investigation drama “She Said,” about two New York Times reporters who broke Harvey Weinstein’s story of sexual misconduct in 2017, is a watershed moment for journalism films.

Because it is hollow.

Movie review

Show duration: 128 minutes. The R rating (Sexual Assault Language and Descriptions) hits theaters November 18.

Directed by Maria Schrader, the film that’s part of one of the most reliably engaging genres – newspaper reporters doggedly chasing a tough story – is a disappointing pendulum lull with its made-for-television smallness.

Gone are the gripping scraps of “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight,” or, on the fantasy side, the wretched mischief of “His Girl Friday” and “The Paper.” In their place are strict procedures and costly international flights.

Yes, Rules Plus Geekiness is how Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey pulled off their explosive show that exposed the disgraced movie producer’s antics and sparked the #MeToo movement. However, their story, as told here, is not compelling enough to warrant a big screen treatment. Nor is it particularly useful. Since we’ve all read a lot about Weinstein, there aren’t a lot of new details to take in. “She Said” is the stuff of memoirs, not films.

Zoe Kazan, left, and Carey Mulligan star as New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohy in “She Said.”
Universal Studios

The fruitless film attempts to uncover depth by illuminating Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Twohey’s (Carey Mulligan) lives outside of the Thames. And he does such a humble job. Both are mothers and are pushed to the limits at home by a hard-to-break storyline with massive potential repercussions.

Twohey, to begin with, is regularly threatened for her reporting on Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Cantor finds her increasingly curious daughter asking tough questions about what she’s doing. However, we don’t really get to know them until after we identify the traits (Twohey, cold and seasoned; Kantor, keen and open-hearted). Kazan’s performance, at least, has some soul. Mechanism Mulligan.

After getting information about Weinstein, the couple quietly met several nervous sources who had worked with the producer and his company, Miramax, had a bad experience with him and were reluctant and afraid to reveal their names — or sign non-disclosure agreements. Interviews with Ashley Judd (she’s actually appearing as herself), Rose McGowan (she wasn’t) just doesn’t sound right. All phone calls appear fake and bouncy. Personal conversations with traumatized former aides more punch.

Cantor (Kazan, left) and Toothy (Mulligan) track down former employees of Harvey Weinstein.
Cantor (Kazan, left) and Toothy (Mulligan) track down former employees of Harvey Weinstein.
Universal Studios

Where the film is most intriguing is that it shows Twohey and Kantor’s divergent tactics for getting sources to trust and open up.

All of the subjects’ traumatic memories are similar, revealing a pattern of behavior by the producer – inviting young women to his hotel room, asking for massages and then taking things further. Though the speeches are repetitive, Jennifer Ehle as Laura Madden and Samantha Morton as Zelda Perkins move as their hard exteriors collapse.

Jennifer Ehle plays one of Weinstein's victims.
Jennifer Ehle plays one of Weinstein’s victims.
Universal Studios

British actresses reeling against an ugly movie.

Each scene is in a drab coffee shop, a strangely empty restaurant, a dingy hotel room, or the sterile editing room with its editor Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson) and executive editor Dean Paquet (Andre Braugher). Schrader and cinematographer Natasha Breyer photograph these spaces in a way that is neither gritty nor stylized. Like a mobile phone photo with poor lighting.

The movie is all iPhones and emails, stone-faced writers saying “unreleasable” and “in the background” over and over again. This reality of paperwork and no-play may be true, but why lazily highlight it?

When Kantor and Twohey finally gathered enough reports to run the story, and the editor’s mouse pointer hovered over the word “publish,” our hearts didn’t beat with anticipation. “She Said” fades out – the exact opposite of what happened in real life.

It seems the filmmakers decided their subject matter was too worthy and important to make it legitimately exciting.

#review #Harvey #Weinstein #NYT #movie

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