I can’t remember ever feeling as culpable and guilty as I did in the wake of Maria Schrader’s “She Said” (Universal-Annapurna Pictures-Plan B Entertainment, 2022, 129 min.), which tells the story of the two New York Times reporters, Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), who finally broke the story about Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein’s sexual crimes, blackballing and casting couch incidents, leading to Weinstein sentenced to jail.
Why do I feel so in the wrong? Well, I started reviewing films in February of 1987, and two years later, Miramax had their first big hit with Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies and Videotape” (1989). Weinstein and Miramax redefined indie cinema over the next decade with “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “The Piano” (1993), “Clerks” (1994), “The Crying Game” (1992) and any number of other hits that made “indie” cool and sexy, spawned by a demon. Weinstein did make some great movies happen, but he also destroyed countless lives and careers, and of course, he designed a system that protected him from his own crimes.
Schrader’s film starts off in a low key, authentic way; Mulligan and Kazan feel like real reporters, not glammed-up starlets, and their performances anchor a very well-cast female ensemble that includes Samantha Morton and Patricia Clarkson; actors play the voices of some of the more famous victims like Rose McGowan, while Ashley Judd steps up, playing herself. It’s a genre cliché that the heroes’ loved ones don’t believe in what they’re doing, so kudos to this film for showing Mulligan and Kazan’s character not just working the case but dealing with being married parents raising their kids, and their jobs have no bearing on the story. That’s refreshing.
Schrader’s camera makes the most out of its many New York locations, finding fresh ways of seeing a city that’s been photographed in so many movies. (I was particularly struck by a high-angle shot of Kazan talking to a source on her cell phone as she’s standing in a NYT stairwell, and Schrader’s camera makes excellent use of the window behind her looking onto a busy intersection – very “North by Northwest”.)
Utilizing voice actors playing Weinstein and various victims reading transcripts of what was said in closed quarters, Schrader plays Weinstein’s crimes over a series of tracking shots down hotel corridors, revealing the ugliness that lies under all that Hollywood “glamour”.
By the time Mulligan finds herself being followed by a black, scary anonymous SUV, I found myself reminded of 70’s paranoid thrillers like “Three Days of the Condor” (1975), not to mention the great movies about the power of journalism, like “All the President’s Men” (1976), “Spotlight” (2015) and “The Post” (2017). And at a time when Donald Trump has just announced his intention to run again, “She Said” is here to remind us that the man is a sexual predator – not exactly fake news.
“She Said” is playing at Cinemapolis and Regal Stadium 14.
Recommended: “Strange World” at Regal Stadium 14
RIP Brad William Henke (“Space Jam”, “Me and You and Everyone We Know”, “Choke”)
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