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Review: She Said – “Captivating”

The investigation into Harvey Weinstein and the numerous claims against him sparked a shift in the culture, not just in America but globally too under the #MeToo movement. She Said focuses on the two real-life journalists, as they carefully unpick the mountain of evidence against Mr. Weinstein. While the story is infamous, the film does well to slowly build from the perspectives of Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan).

Set so closely to the present the film feels odd to watch, especially as it starts off in 2015 when Trump was not yet president but facing his own allegations. The film then continues into the numerous sexual assault allegations against US commentator Bill O’Reilly which sparks an investigation into his behaviour before he is let go by Fox News. Inspired by this, the New York Times begin its own investigation into crimes by men in positions of power. By choosing to focus on the point of view of Jodi and Megan the film is able to unpick the threads which lead them to Harvey Weinstein, completely unaware of the mountain of evidence they are about to uncover.

The film draws obvious comparisons to the film Spotlight (2015), which followed the Boston Globe’s investigations, though I think the New York Times has much nicer offices. There’s a documentary-like quality to the film, from its use of Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow (voice only) portraying themselves, to historical television footage. Of course, there is nothing more shocking than the use of real audio from a wire worn by Ambra Gutierrez when she is cornered by Harvey Weinstein, which is damning when heard in its entirety. The film stylistically is a little flat though, there is no sensational camerawork or inspired use of cinematography, there is a level of seriousness that almost threatens to swallow the film but the greatest strength is the way it forces you to listen to women.

While the film is about the crimes of Harvey Weinstein and the system which hid them for decades, at its centre is women. Women coming together and speaking out. There are fantastic performances across the board, not least by Zoe and Carey, though I think Carey has more to work with and brings a sharp wit to Megan. Samantha Morton and Jennifer Ehle also appear as former assistants to Harvey Weinstein and bring a warmth and depth to their time on screen. The main tension of the investigation is whether anyone will go on the record and be named in the article Jodi and Megan are trying to write. Through their tenacity and persistence they’re able to speak to so many people but none who can face the backlash they will inevitably receive.

As serious as the film is, there are some comedic moments, not least the unintentional comedy of seeing an American try to navigate travelling in the UK. The comedy is very rare though and it is a serious film with a story it wants to tell earnestly. While it may not be fun (and it is just a tad too long) it is captivating and guides you through the rabbit hole the New York Times uncovers. This may not be a film that is comfortable to watch – it is direct on the abuse that happens – it does however leave you feeling that the world is much better in the wake of the article and #MeToo movement.

She Said is in UK cinemas now.

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