In 2017, writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published an article exposing the decades-long sexual misconduct of Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein that affected many women—actresses and assistants—eventually leading to the dawn of the #MeToo movement that has empowered individuals to speak out and fight back against their abusers.
Universal Pictures’ “She Said” directed by Maria Schrader with the screenplay by Rebecca Lenkiewicz is a detailed account of what the two New York Times journalists went through to investigate Weinstein’s crimes, from showing up at victims’ doors (and getting said door slammed to their faces) and persuading them to go on the record with their story, to obtaining a memo written by an employee attesting to Weinstein’s sexual assaults, to finally meeting with Weinstein and his team just to get a statement.
And perhaps that itself is what made this such a great movie, that such a big man can be taken down by the hard work of two women—both mothers, emotional, empathetic, driven, and high-strung—that somehow you forget who the film is actually about. Because, really, it wasn’t about him at all. It was about the women. It always has been.
So much care was given to make sure that none of the true stories retold in “She Said” are sensationalized. There were no harrowing reenactments of the assaults and even the scenes showing the direct aftermath of said abuse were few and far between. At one point, though, a real-life audio is played from when a woman brought a recording device with her as she visited Weinstein in his hotel room, and it’s just as disturbing as you’d think. Still, it was a necessary piece to somehow shake you out of your movie-watching trance to remember that, yes, all this did happen, even though you’re probably thinking about it every minute of the hour.
Even the reporters themselves, Megan and Jodi, were not given dramatic storylines that would steal attention away from the victims. Yes, we were given a look into their lives at home and the families they care for. But at no point did it feel that they were making this article they were writing about them. Because they know it isn’t.
When all is said and done, they just wanted the story to be told and be told right, where allegations can be backed by reputable sources, where the lesser-known women are put at the forefront with the more famous victims (one of them Ashley Judd, who bravely portrayed herself), where people can read it and be so moved to, in the words used in the film, “jump together” and finally speak up.
The movie ends as Jodi and Megan and colleagues who helped them at The New York Times throughout their journey hit “Publish” and there’s no better way it could have concluded. After all, we’re already living its outcome. Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence in prison and all over the world more women, men, and those in the LGBTQIA+ community are standing their ground against sexism, harassment, and abuse in their own workplaces. And still, there is so much left to do. The fight is never over. But if it weren’t for The New York Times, all the victims who spoke up, and all the others who aided in exposing what the male-dominant Hollywood industry has buried for years and years, the mass upheaval wouldn’t have begun the way that it did.
“She Said” is heartbreaking at its worst and utterly satisfying, gripping, and empowering at its best. I hope that there will come a day when we won’t need to make any more films like it because we’ve successfully destroyed the toxic system, but while we still do, I hope they’re told the way Schrader and Lenkiewicz have.
“She Said” is out in Philippine cinemas on November 23, 2022.
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