Due to the important impact of the #MeToo movement, and the revelations of numerous industries, workplaces and life itself, if you don’t know the depths of the subject matter here, I honestly don’t know where you’ve been but She Said is a vital, significant film that in essence summarises and recaps all the main breakthroughs, and does so with emotional punch and weighty performances. It’s no understatement to say that things have begun to change for the better, and while there’s a lot of work still to do, She Said equally documents and explains how we got here – and it’s a powerfully achieved.
Directed by Maria Schrader, written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and based on the book by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey – who led the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that shattered the system and empowered women to speak out, She Said opens with a brief look at an early reported moment that’ll come full-circle in the story we’re told here. Opening in Ireland in 1992, we get an early emotional representation of the innocence of the victims, right through to the horrific reality that occurred – a young Laura Madden (who we’ll meet again years later) stumbles upon a location shoot, and consequentially gets a job on the film, which seems to be perfect, but then it abruptly cuts to a later time, as she’s running down the street distraught and fearful. There’s little doubt of the story its telling, and we already know that Harvey Weinstein probably has something to do with.
The early stages also introduce us to Jodi Kantor (played by Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan), showing us their personal and family life, highlighting the struggles of the everyday thus giving us that everywoman vibe for both, which is important with the stories to come. Some early scripting reminds us of the vulgarity of Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly, alongside the deep-seated irony of the latter’s downfall especially, and a little nod to their systemic involvement in the entire problem.
And then Kazan’s Kantor receives information that Rose McGowan was sexually assaulted by Weinstein, and how even when she came forward, nothing was done and nobody in the industry really wanted to do anything about it. A reminder of the power held by these predators. Whilst McGowan initially doesn’t want to revisit, she does in time talk to Jodi and tell her about her horrific experience, how Weinstein works, and we’re not hidden from the detail. It’s distressing. And it should be for us, and to think this was just the start of the truths.
Kantor also hears from Ashley Judd, her first-hand experience and her story, plus Gwyneth Paltrow, but neither really want to go on the record at this point, because life has been bad enough with that secret and up to this point, talking about it has never done much. So while Jodi has a lot of information, she’s stuck at a point because of reasons you can understand, but from this point, Megan and Jodi end up working together to try and push what they know and hope that the collective stories of these women, and so many more over a 25 years period, can begin to make an actual different to everything by some seriously impressive investigative journalism, delving deep into the money and settlements, and focusing on those people who’ve helped hide the facts and aren’t under any of non-disclosure agreement.
Of course, gradually, their unrelenting work will kick of a global movement and She Said is an impressive reminder of the best of journalism and using it for all the right reasons. This story is also important because it’s easy to forget the non-famous people this affected forever as well, those who aren’t in the public eye and have had to live with some horrifying realities for their whole adult lives. All this is portrayed with gravitas from Mulligan and Kazan, plus an important ensemble with Patricia Clarkson, Frank Wood, Andre Braughe,r Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Morton, and Ashley Judd.
It’s no understatement to say this is a must-watch, part documentary, part dramatization movie, and their committed work took on the industry and the systemic sexism and sexual assault cover-ups and brought some of those to justice, who were using their position and power in all the most horrendous ways. This is a vital story that changed everything and while it’s clearly not over yet, this is an enlightening insight to bring it all together. Watch. Listen. Learn and let’s keep progressing. Truly empowering.