4 out of 5 stars

In She Said, the story is the film. That might sound like a simple, borderline uninformative thing to say, but it’s true. The movie is an adaptation of the work (both in newspaper and literary forms) that New York Times investigative reporters Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) did to unearth the widespread and horrifying allegations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood producer and co-founder of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein. 

And while the film doesn’t have the same cinematic flair as Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men (1976), which chronicled Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s investigation into Watergate, or even Thomas McCarthy’s Spotlight (2015), which followed The Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team as they uncovered widespread child sex abuse by Catholic priests, the story behind Kantor and Twohey is so compelling it doesn’t matter. 

She Said opens with a flashback to Ireland in the early-1990s. We later learn it’s about one of Weinstein’s incidents and the ensuing fallout involving three women: Laura Madden (Jennifer Ehle), Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton), and Rowena Chiu (Angela Yeoh).  The scenes of Madden and Perkins telling Kantor about their experiences with Weinstein are the dual centrepieces of the movie; both emotional knockouts that are the work of great supporting actors.

The other members of the New York Times team working on the story—Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson) and Dean Baquet (Andre Braugher)—bring just the right air of authority, comfortability, and been-there-done-that-ness to proceedings. The team feel like a real group of journalists working on the story together, even down to the image of all of them crowded around a computer reading over the copy editor’s shoulder one final time before publication.

As a big fan of journalism movies, She Said does its due diligence in that department. The scenes of reporters and editors fast-walking around the New York Times offices are obviously fun, but it’s the small stuff that resonates: Kantor and Twohey answering their phones at night in bed to talk to sources—or each other—about the story, awkwardly attempting to secure and engage with an interviewee, worrying that someone else (in this case, the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow) may break the story before they get a chance to finish it. It’s an important insight into the process and work that goes into nailing a story of this magnitude. 

One of the film’s most interesting, and successful creative choices, is the screentime (or lack thereof) of Weinstein himself. He’s mostly alluded to, but not seen until late in the film when he visits the New York Times office right before they’re set to publish the story. And even then, he’s shot from behind and you only hear sparing comments from him. 

The decision by director Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz to keep Weinsten mostly offscreen adds to the monstrousness of his actions and anchors the story on the reporters and their investigation, which is what the film should be focused on. 

There are plenty of great journalism movies that focus on the villain(s) of the story: Ace in the Hole (1951), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), and more delve into these types of rich characters fully and expose many of the problems in the field. But in this instance, it was more important to centre the “heroic” journalists rather than the villainous figure they’re covering, even if he is famous. It doesn’t have the cinematic juice of some of the most canonized journalism classics, but She Said is nevertheless an emotional and triumphant exploration of two reporters that broke an important story that lead to real change in the entertainment industry.

USA | 2022 | 129 MINUTES | 1.85:1 | COLOUR | ENGLISH

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Cast & Crew

director: Maria Schrader.
writer: Rebecca Lenkiewicz (based on ‘The New York Times’ investigation by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey & Rebecca Corbett, and ‘She Said’ by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey.
starring: Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Morton & Ashley Judd.