Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan excel in the superb but sobering She Said
“Who have you talked to?”
There are different ways to talk about the #MeToo movement. David Mamet’s play Bitter Wheat was a colossal misjudgement; She Said is a much more successful enterprise, the film being based on the book written by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey on their investigation into sexual assault in Hollywood which lead to the unveiling of the horrific truth about Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour in the industry for so long.
Directed by Maria Schrader and adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, She Said eschews notions of lurid exploitation by opting for an almost semi-documentary style of presenting. A measured, sensitive look at how journalism can work, particularly when it meets subjects who are understandably reluctant to share stories and power structures determined to silence them at almost any cost.
Carey Mulligan’s Twohey and Zoe Kazan’s Kantor are two excellent performances, alive to the grenade-like possibilities of the outrageous scandal they’re uncovering, along with the utterly ingrained code of fearful silence keeping it under wraps. And in the midst of all this trauma (the film wisely steers clear of re-enactments), there’s a gorgeous sense of the equilibrium for women starting to shift in the right direction.
And there’s real emotional power that comes in the supporting performances of the women sharing their stories. Quite what more Samantha Morton could have done to get an Academy Award nomination (and win) I don’t know but she is heart-rendingly stunning in her scene as Zelda Perkins, one of Weinstein’s former assistants. Jennifer Ehle also breaks hearts as Laura Madden, as does Ashley Judd who plays herself, revisiting a place of real pain but hopefully on a path to somewhere better as a result of her bravery. A quietly but assuredly strong film.