Where I Watched It: Peacock
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Journalists break stories. And if they can break them fast enough, we can actually get a movie out while their main target is still in litigation. If you recall, this dropped at the same time Harvey Weinstin’s case in Los Angeles was going on, and I definitely found it amusing that the judge had to tell the jury not to watch the trailer for the film.
In general, I wish more people would watch She Said. no, not because it’s my favorite film of the year or anything, but Maria Schrader presents this in such a straightforward form that there is very little sensationalism to try and claim that the movie is twisting its facts. It’s almost a documentary at times, as Zoey Kazan and Carey mulligan traverse the many women seemingly left behind in the wake of Weinstein.
These women are intimidated, and scared to discuss these events because they believe he still has some form of power (at the time) and they just don’t want to make waves. Even Rose McGowan, who originally made a mention of this in a social media post, felt like she didn’t want to participate in a New York Times article because of how her previous statements had been mocked. It’s a strong tale of women not being believed, and gaslit for so long that when someone is standing in front of them, ready to listen, they can’t really fathom that reality.
This film felt important enough for Ashley Judd to play herself, instead of someone playing her. And, she tries to make this as natural as possible. Not like she’s playing a character, but being interviewed about her experiences. Schrader often uses imagery of empty hallways and establishing shots in place of just staring at an actress while they spill their guts. It creates this interesting environment, something to break up the monotony of interview after interview, and I appreciate that the audio description is around to catch these directorial choices.
In fact, while She Said may not be an Awards contender much anymore, it’s a shame that the same Hollywood that has propped up Weinstein for so many years would turn their backs on a film that chastises that very system. Sarcasm. It’s hard to put that in here. the reason you don’t see people clamoring to nominate the film has a little to do with the structure, and the actual campaign, but mostly because it’s an open wound Hollywood isn’t looking to revisit, and a mirror being held up by Schrader that forces every talent in Hollywood to ask themselves if there was something they could ahve done.
These women talk about the fear of being blacklisted, losing out on auditions, just for speaking out. When our reporters find out the budget Miramax had for continuously paying off women to keep their silence, and we see these silly non-disclosure agreements they had to sign, we can see that more people had to know. It wasn’t just one man cleaning up his own mess, it was a system built on dirty little secrets that allowed this fungus to fester.
She Said is not a flashy movie, but it is an important one. I’d put it up there with All the president’s Men and Spotlight, but you’ll feel like it’s a step behind because, as I said earlier, Schrader isn’t looking for that jaw dropping moment. She considers the extent of her topic to be the moment, and you’re in it for so long you have actually forgotten that you’re just listening to woman after woman recount sexual assault and harassment.
This film is rated R, I believe, because they have very frank discussions about this sexual assault. But there is no actual sex or nudity in the film. Take your kids, have a discussion, and instead of being like voting blocks in Hollywood, embrace this and take in what Maria Schrader has put together. It’s a compelling story of systematic failure, and I’m grateful that it had some terrific audio description.
On a side note, to Universal…. Stop this nonsense with Carey Mulligan in supporting. She has almost exactly the same amount of screentime as Zoey Kazan. Arguably, Mulligan is the lead. We open by focusing on the work her reporter is doing to uncover a similar scandal revolving around women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct during his initial Presidential run. Even though they don’t spend a ton of time on that, it gives us actually more weight and backstory on Mulligan than Kazan, who just appears and starts working this Weinstein story before bringing Mulligan on.
Final Grade: A-