She Said – Film newspaper

An entertaining reconstruction of the journalistic work that initiated Harvey Weinstein’s downfall and broke a culture of silence.

“It’s hard to ask women to talk,” says Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) in She said against Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan). The film reconstructs how the two journalists of New York Times ushered in the fall of movie producer Harvey Weinstein with a powerful piece of investigative journalism. They won a Pulitzer Prize, and Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2020 for assault and rape.

But what makes the case particularly important are the floodgates opened by the revelations about Weinstein. After the first publications by Kantor and Twohey (and almost simultaneously those by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker) in 2017, Twitter was flooded with similar experiences of abuse of power and sexual abuse.

Under the hashtag #MeToo, these testimonies swept far beyond the boundaries of Weinstein’s production company Miramax and the film industry – and the wave is still rolling five years later. She said, after the book of the same name by the two journalists, goes back to the source. For the meticulous research that preceded the publication of the first article on October 5, 2017 (the movie ends the moment ‘publish’ is pressed). But especially for what started it all: To offer women a platform where they can make their voices heard.

She said is a film about silence. The Hollywood silence where Weinstein’s misconduct was an open secret. The silence of the victims; Weinstein bought their silence through settlements. But the silence went deeper, the film shows. It is also about the fear and shame that women internalize from an early age. We teach girls that you shouldn’t cycle home alone in the dark, that it’s best to sit in the corridor on the train, that you should have a phone to your ear outside at night. The young women around Weinstein also exchanged defense mechanisms. Wear two tights on top of each other. Never sit next to him on the couch, always in a chair with a back.

The film shows how much it takes to break that silence. She said shows the work of the sometimes naïve Kantor and the more seasoned Twohey as a tireless scraping of sources and documents, but above all as a painstaking and lengthy process of convincing women to tell their story. The film reconstructs that process entertainingly and stays close to Kantor and Twohey’s book.

She said stands in the tradition of journalistic films which Spotlight (2015) and mail (2017), which is again indebted to the unsurpassed All the President’s Men (1976), Alan J. Pakula’s film about the Watergate revelations of Washington Post. That later films do not peak may be because the nature of journalistic work has changed. Shady parking garages have been swapped for internet and smartphones – visually less interesting.

Although that too She said plays tricks (the film overcompensates for the lack of theatrical scenery with another image of a busy New York), director Maria Schrader (unorthodox2020; Ich bin dein Mansch, 2021) some interesting choices in what makes them visible and what not. Famous female actors who appeared as sources are either present as themselves or not visible. In the film, Weinstein is just a booming voice on the phone, the back of his head shaking with anger. It’s an attempt not to let this movie be about him. To silence him for a change.

Who we primarily see are former employees of Miramax, the women who stepped out of anonymity. Such as Laura Madden, played beautifully fragile by Jennifer Ehle, who tells her story on the beach where her children play further away. Or Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton), who delivers crucial documents to Jodi Kantor. Morton plays the brief but impressive scene with a restrained self-control that sparkles with anger. It is in these scenes that the film becomes more than a reconstruction. While the MeToo movement has inevitably become more complex in the intervening years, due to countermovements and gray areas, the film is a call to keep listening to women who speak their minds.

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