She Said


‘…She Said does a good job of evoking the ghosts of the past to warn us that our precarious present is very much open to the very same kind of exploitation of the young….’

Yikes! Maria Schrader’s drama about the journalistic investigation of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein arrives with a slew of backstory controversy; Hollywood films still feel that stories set in the 60’s are edgy, so a movie set as recently as 2016 makes for a potent example of dealing with today’s topics. Yet with Weinstein safely in the slammer for now, She Said has a job to do in terms of making us understand that rehashing this specific case is not cold potatoes.

‘This is bigger than Weinstein. This is about the system protecting abusers,’ is a key line here; while the public may well have got the message about Weinstein, what is the point in raking over the evidence that led to his conviction? But let’s not fool ourselves here; Weinstein was merely the most high-profile of a number of prominent men brought down by the MeToo movement, but there’s many more industry men (and women) who could be charged with the same predatory behaviour. Schrader’s film opens with New York Times journalist Jodi Cantor (Zoe Kazan) getting a phone call from soon-to-be-disgraced ex-president Donald Trump (James Austin Johnson) as he seeks to stave off the collective mass of rape cases he’s still attempting to evade today. Taking a cue from the Founding Fathers, who clearly imagined the White House to be a non-prosecution zone to protect on-going sex predators, Trump is a big bad who is largely off the hook for the rest of the film which zeroes in on the efforts of NYT journos Cantor and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) to persuade a number of actresses and employees to go on the record.

Going on the record runs the risk of further, litigious attacks, and while She Said adopts a fairly bald, if not brutal approach to the minutia of building a journalistic case that satisfies the NYT top-brass (Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher), it also captures the anxieties of all concerned. The ‘constant sense of dread’ they remark on is very much a product of the social media age; cyber-bullying, the informal threats to disgrace journalists who don’t toe the line through lies and lawsuits, all point to a male-dominated world choking on its own corruption. ‘So shops have secrets, but newspapers have none?’ remarks a child when confronted with the issues of NDAs; She Said doesn’t make much of any potential qualms about how the media itself works, and makes sure we’re lazer-focused on how the likes of Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd (playing herself here) were persuaded to help bring Weinstein to some kind of justice.

‘My worry is that people won’t care’; is a valid sentiment to express; She Said had the lowest box office to date for a movie released into 2000+ North American screens, and awards season hasn’t done much to ignite the flame. But as a reminder of the abusive behaviour of men, thankfully not seen or dramatized here, Schrader’s film effectively captures the dirty tricks used to keep such ‘nasty women’ from stopping white male privilege in its tracks. I was a regular visitor to the Miramax headquarters in LA back in the day, and while I never saw anything like the acts described here, I was horrified by how the intern culture was spreading to the point where a regular supply of vulnerable, unpaid, keen-to-work young people is very much a constant in today’s business world. Cases like Weinstein’s are clear cut enough to offer slam-dunk convictions, but his cultural influence is wider and more pernicious; She Said does an effective job of evoking the ghosts of the past to warn us that our precarious present is very much open to the very same kind of exploitation of the young.


Leave a Reply
  1. Sometimes movies based on real-life events coming out so very soon thereafter, and especially when the subject is to some extent still an ongoing conversation, just don’t interest me. Too soon for this I thought, and I certainly also didn’t expect any “revelations” in addition to what already was reported.

    • There were no revelations, and I get that audiences felt it was a rehash. But I think the details of the Weinstein investigation should be recorded in this form, deliberately bluntly.

  2. It’s not like Spotlight at all. It sorely lacks the investigation of the best of this genre – All the Presidents Men for example. I’m sure Woodward and Bernstein had love lives and mothers and all but none of that is referenced. Yet, here too much time is wasted on the characters rather than the investigation. That was the reason it flopped, not because it wasn’t covering an important issue, but just it was so damned dull. Even when they had Weinstein in a room, we never got any of that interrogation.

    • I accepted the restraint of the film-makers and their just the fact style. The little moments in the relationship between the two weee very Redford Hoffman. And the slog element was well caught, with an added social media dread edge. Not a spectacular film, and one that illustrates a story we know only too well, but worth setting down for future generation.

  3. I’m saying nope, but only because I followed all the news on this back when it kicked off. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t do so well at the box office, the coverage was extensive.

    • It’s a problem towards the end of the film because we know exactly where this is going and how we get there. So oddly, the lesser known bits of the story are more compelling. I think this will have more of an impact for casual viewers at home.

  4. In your opinion, how does this compare to Spotlight?

    I was blown away by that film, and thrilled when it won best picture (actually, I think it’s the last best picture winner I loved).

    I’m going to watch it either way but I’m hoping for something of similar quality.

    • Very much like Spotlight, but with a specific feminist angle about stopping male abuse that’s easy to get hold of. Not quite as engrossing as Spotlight, but the same ‘just the facts’ attitude…hardly worth skipping Magic Mike Goes Skiiing for…

  5. Was there some deeper reason for sandwiching the Magic Mike review in-between reviews of Women Talking and She Said?

    Intern culture is brutal. I remember seeing all the pretty young things working at the most prestigious jobs for nothing and thinking even back then that there must have been a lot of something else going on too. Exploitation can take many forms, and you can bank on the fact that it will.

    his cultural influences is

    • No. Pure coincidence.

      And yes, unpaid interns are a legal way of making Weinstein level sleaze legal…or at least easy to cover up…

Leave a Reply