Director: Maria Schrader
Writer: Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Based on: Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey‘s book
Cast: Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Morton, Zach Grenier
Seen on: 19.12.2022
Content Note: (mention of) sexualized violence, rape
Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) is a reporter with the New York Times and she is after a story that involves Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. She has heard that several female actors were assaulted by him but so far nobody is willing to go public with that information. Stuck, she asks her colleage Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) for help. Megan has worked similar stories already and she has just come back from maternal leave and needs a new project. The two dig into the story, and the deeper they dig, the bigger the story gets.
She Said is a very well-made film that outlines both the way Weinstein was able to commit his crimes for decades, and his entire environment looked away and enabled him; and also how hard it was to uncover everything and to get people to talk. It had me at the edge of my seat, despite being familiar with the story in general.
Sexualized violence thrives in hierarchical systems, and the film industry certainly is such a system. If you don’t play along, you’re out and there’s very little that can protect you – apart from cosying up to the people in charge, if only by keeping quiet. She Said makes the precarious position for those who dare to, or even just think about, speak out very clear. It is not a coincidence that the people who put their names down in the end are the ones already out of the system (at least more or less).
And the problem is not just a few bad men, it is the entire power structure where people look away, don’t ask obvious questions, don’t intervene. This is not the responsibility of the powerless, by the way, but of the other powerful people, most of them men. Not even Weinstein didn’t have anybody to report to, and no competition that could have made his abuse impossible – if they had only acted, spoken out, taken a moral position opposed to his abuse. It didn’t happen.
The film is very clear about this, and about so many other things. It really boils down the problem very succinctly, and in a surprisingly easily to digest way. And it works so very well as an investigative film. I was completely invested in Jodi and Megan’s research, and couldn’t wait for the next thing they’d uncover. I also loved that the film incorporated their personal lives, very generally in their efforts to be mothers (Megan maybe with post-partum depression) and how much of a toll the investigation took on their family lives as well. Kazan and Mulligan are wonderful, grounding their characters in their cooperation with each other – another lovely aspect that we see way too rarely in films. With the casting of Judd (as herself, which was perfect), Ehle and Morton, they get excellent partners as well.
She Said is like a supplemental perspective to The Assistant (equally fantastic, but in a completely different way), a broader, less personal view from the outside as opposed to the personal close-up in the latter. But both should be required watching if you’re interested in film, power and/or gender.
Summarizing: goosebump cinema.