- Colin Fraser
TWO AND A HALF STARS The story that brought down Harvey Weinstein and sparked the #metoo movement
DRAMA US #SHESAIDMOVIE
Starring Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan
Fans of the ‘newspaper-journalists-hunt-down-a-story-and-get-their-man-against-impossible-odds’ sub-genre will find Maria Schrader’s drama effortlessly seductive. For one it’s adapted from Megan Twohey’ and Jodi Kantor's account of their experience outing Harvey Weinstein. For another, that story was the fuel that set the #metoo movement alight.
Twohey (Carey Mulligan) is a journalist at the New York Times. Her colleague Kantor (Zoe Kazan) gets wind of systemic abuse in Hollywood where many women are subjected to abuse but none are willing to talk about it. They could lose their jobs, ruin their careers, or worse. Together they trace the story, one that leads upward through celebrity to the very height of power.
With star wattage on both sides of the camera plus the explicit involvement of women who were directly involved and abused (Ashley Judd for one), Schrader has a lot to work with. It’s fascinating to watch journos at the peak of their craft as they track down the victims and win their trust. Yet for such an emotive subject, the film is a very mechanical affair.
Unlike newspaper films such as SPOTLIGHT or THE POST, there’s something emotionally distant about SHE SAID. Despite the truly distressing subject matter - emotional bullying, sexual predation, rape - too much of the film is focussed on the minutiae of the work by Twohey and Kantor. As they pull their story together there are endless scenes of exposition detailing that work in extraordinary detail. Many of the threads come together in the final act but there are many more that don’t. If they’re unimportant in the end, why include them at all. A scene in which the women wear similar dresses to meet a victim is one such pointless, forgotten moment.
So much of the film is bogged in detail that come the final, rallying act in which Weinstein starts to fight back, the requisite ‘gotcha’ moment slips through Schrader’s fingers. There’s a sense that nervous lawyers, or perhaps Twohey and Kantor themselves, are sitting too close to the project and either acclaimed screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz (the exceptional IDA), or Schrader herself, are unable to do their job. It’s such a shame. The article, and the movement, such forceful and meaningful cultural moments, deserve much more than this merely satisfactory film.