'She Said' Gives Voice to the #MeToo Movement

Directed by Maria Schrader

Starring Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, Patricia Clarkson, Samantha Morton, Jennifer Ehle, Andre Braugher, Mike Houston

Photo courtesy of Universal

BY Marriska FernandesPublished Nov 18, 2022

She Said is a raw, engaging and powerful story of reporters Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) as they publish an explosive New York Times exposé of Harvey Weinstein's (Mike Houston) decades-long sexual abuse and harassment of young women that started the #MeToo movement.

Based on Kantor and Twohey's book of the same name, She Said picks up during the 2016 presidential election, when Twohey investigates the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. While pregnant with her first child, she receives many anonymous calls in an attempt to threaten and intimidate her as she inquires into Trump's history. A few months later, her colleague Kantor investigates sexual harassment in the workplace in Hollywood, specifically accusations made against Weinstein by actresses Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Palthrow.

As the two continue to research the story, getting the victims to go on the record proves challenging. Thus begins long hours of conversations and digging into reports from the '90s to find out what was happening behind closed doors at Weinstein's production company, Miramax. Kantor and Twohey are challenged at every turn, even as mothers raising young children. From here, many viewers will be aware where the film is heading and the eventual article that was published and rocked Hollywood to its core.

Maria Schrader's She Said has a sense of justice that prevails after the lengthy 128-minute run time. At times, the narrative feels slow paced and drawn out — perhaps intentionally, to reflect the long and tedious hours the women put into it. And, given the unfortunate number of stories to be told in She Said, the film doesn't always feel cohesive, as the audience tries to keep track of the various cases and names as they get introduced.

However, the film is grounded, without glamorizing or sensationalizing the story. The approach is more documentary-style than a feature film narrative, lending credibility to the story, victims and survivors. Notably, She Said doesn't depict the horrific things Weinstein subjected the women to. Instead, Lenkiewic and Schrader sensitively opt to have the women detail the testimonies in conversation or through voiceovers as the camera zooms in uncomfortably through hotel corridors.

Written thoughtfully and respectfully by Rebecca Lenkiewic, the script doesn't just put the spotlight on the famous actresses who came forward. It also gives a voice to the lesser-known victims, like the assistants and young women who wanted to pursue creative careers in the industry, and instead were left with lifelong scars. The aftermath of the abuse, even decades later, is what many aren't aware of, and what the film attempts to shed light on.

The film makes it a point to remind audiences that #MeToo is bigger than Weinstein — it's about the system that protects the abusers, as he was able to silence the women through settlements and NDA agreements. 

There are powerful moments and uncomfortably necessary ones that are carried brilliantly by both Mulligan and Kazan. Mulligan is a scene-stealer when she boldly goes face-to-face with Weinstein's team, while Kazan's softer portrayal is heart-wrenching as she does more of the film's heavy lifting.

The film is rounded out by a solid supporting cast. A delightful Andre Braugher as Dean Baquet, who you feel like cheering out loud for every scene he's in (which is not as many as one would like), and Patricia Clarkson, as Rebecca Corbett, doesn't miss a beat. Samantha Morton and Jennifer Ehle, who play Weinstein's former assistants, are the ones whose stories are the most horrifying, and these actresses capture the trauma of living with abuse decades after their encounters with Weinstein.

While at times the film feels like it's being overly explanatory, it's necessary to deliver the message to audiences loud and clear: there are so many more Weinsteins out there. She Said serves as an informational and emotional roller coaster about what sparked the #MeToo movement, and it looks to help other women process their own trauma with Weinstein-sized monsters they've encountered in showbiz or beyond. As Twohey puts it: they cannot change what happened, but together they might be able to protect others in the future.

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