Sex, lies, power, and scandal, SHE SAID wowed audiences into silence at NYFF60. We all think we know the story behind the takedown of Harvey Weinstein. This new film, based on the explosive investigative reporting from New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, gives us an inside look at the delicate process of relationship building and the truth. She Said is directed by Maria Schrader, with a screenplay from Rebecca Lenkiewicz based on the 2019 book by Kantor and Twohey of the same name. The film depicts two colleagues coming from two different places in their personal life; Kantor, the mother of three children, and Twohey enduring PPD after the birth of her first child. The film opens brilliantly, with Twohey addressing the infamous Access Hollywood tape. We all know what happened after that, and any sane human can agree it was a disaster for women and the entire world. Once payouts for sexual allegations became a headline, and after the firing of Bill O’Reilly, the NYT floor was abuzz with thinking. How far does this problem go?
The legwork done by these women is mindblowing. The all-hours phone calls, the messages, the threats, and the intimate and honest way they approached anyone connected with Miramax and The Weinstein Company. The film conveys the emotional exhaustion of it all. Story after story of similar allegations and subsequent NDAs sucker punch you, over and over. As these cases now play out in real-time, it is fascinating to witness how to reach a victim and what compels an enabler. One particular detail I found interesting was Weinstein’s obsession with whether the team had spoken to Gwenyth Paltrow. It comes up three to four times at Harvey’s behest. I am dying to know what that story entails because it was clear from the voice reenactments Harvey feared her in a way he did not fear others. Seeing Ashley Judd play herself was undeniably powerful. I can only imagine the feelings of catharsis that must come with that decision.
Andre Braugher as NTY executive editor Dean Baquet gives a standout performance. He is a no-nonsense fighter, and the entire audience loved him. Braugher represents what every female employer needs in their corner daily. He is spectacular. Jennifer Ehle is heartbreaking as Laura Madden, one of the first women to agree to go on the record. Samantha Morton is an absolute ass-kicker playing Zelda Perkins, who handed over the negotiations from her NDA. She brings the fiery energy that skewers Miramax.
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, respectively. Chasing down uncooperative leads and racing against Ronan Farrow, while balancing personal turmoil and home life, Mulligan and Kazan perfectly balance one another. Mulligan brings a similar edge that we saw in Promising Young Woman. Do not for a minute think this is a one-note performance. Never doubt Carey Mulligan’s ability to be soft and vulnerable. Kazan plays Kantor with an elegant passion and determination to reveal the truth. Together, they support one another from scene to scene. Some of my favorite moments occurred when only the two of them played opposite one another. While these were generally brief, believe it or not, they were magnetic together. I would watch seven more films about Twohey and Kantor’s work as long as Mulligan and Kazan do them justice.
Ultimately, SHE SAID is both retraumatizing and revitalizing. The work continues. We can thank two brave and tirelessly devoted women for letting us into a world we did not want to admit ruled supreme for far too long. SHE SAID will undoubtedly be on everyone’s lips as we keep our fingers crossed that men like Harvey Weinstein, and anyone who enabled his behavior, are held accountable. Survivors demand it, and allies demand it. Something has got to give. Let the dominoes fall, and let them rot in jail.
She Said – Only In Theaters November 18.