She Said movie review: A riveting investigative drama

She Said key art
She Said key art /

She Said tells the story of how New York Times journalists Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) publicly exposed Harvey Weinstein’s pattern of sexual abuse. This was widely known around Hollywood for many years, but Miramax allegedly covered it up by paying victims large settlements so they would keep quiet. Twohey and Kantor attempted to uncover the truth, but none of the victims wanted to go on record.

However, by talking to more and more people, some wanted to come out and finally expose Weinstein, hoping there would  be real change. The piece led to more victims coming out and sharing their stories of sexual abuse, and was the catalyst for the #MeToo movement, prompting a massive amount of change in the workplace and in Hollywood.

More work needs to be done, of course, but Twohey and Kantor’s impact to the movement cannot be overstated. The piece was one of the most critical documents of investigative journalism in the last decade and actively revealed how Hollywood would instead cover up abusers than bring them to justice.

I remember fondly when Ridley Scott had recast Kevin Spacey with the late Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World, two weeks before the film was slated to release after allegations of sexual harassment against his actor had surfaced. That, and Weinstein’s allegations, started a wave of denunciations in the industry that are still felt to this day.

She Said is riveting but has a paint by numbers, linear structure

By watching She Said, you may not learn anything new, but director Maria Schrader still manages to craft a compelling investigative drama with two impeccable performances anchoring it.

Its style is highly reminiscent of All the President’s Men, with the two journalists moving from one place to the next, walking and talking (Nicholas Britell punctuates their consistent movements through his magnificent score), uncovering evidence, asking multiple people if they’re willing to go on the record or not, being followed, and going back-and-forth between editors and Weinstein’s legal team on what can be used in the article while alienating their relationship with their respective husbands (Tom Pelphrey and Adam Shapiro).

And, as predictable as the style can be, and going on for a tad too long, there’s never a dull moment in She Said, even knowing how the story ends.

Mulligan and Kazan are incredible as Twohey and Kantor, giving massive amounts of emotional depth to their characters’ goal in the pursuit of truth as more evidence comes to light. Supporting performances from Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher as New York Times editors are also a major highlight, particularly when they directly confront Weinstein, whose shadow always seems to lurk as the journalists deepen their investigation.

Knowing how everything will end, there may be a slight disconnect between how the events unfold and how the movie ultimately finishes. But She Said remains an effective, and well-crafted investigative drama on one of the most important pieces of journalism of the 2010s. Natasha Braier’s cinematography is highly linear, but brilliantly accompanies Britell’s score, which ramps up the tension from the moment the journalists start to work on the piece to the film’s ending.

One would’ve hoped a shorter film with a less paint-by-numbers structure, but She Said is still a must-see, particularly for the performances of Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan who may have entered awards consideration. 2022 has been an incredible year for media, but there’s a chance both of them will score nominations for their work. They deserve it, just like this film deserves your attention.

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She Said is now playing in theatres.