‘She Mentioned’ Film Evaluation: Harvey Weinstein Will get Incendiary Movie

NYFF: Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan star as Pulitzer-winning journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in Maria Schrader’s searing true-life story.

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When eventual Pulitzer Prize winners Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey revealed their first New York Instances investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s a long time of sexual abuse and harassment in October 2017, the journalists had solely a handful of accusers prepared to go on the document. Within the months and years that adopted, greater than 80 completely different ladies ultimately accused the Hollywood bigwig (and now convicted and jailed rapist) of a litany of crimes over a few years. Kantor and Twohey’s investigation (and a concurrent one from Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker, with whom they shared their Pulitzer) didn’t simply set a course for a reckoning for Weinstein and his crimes however helped ignite the complete #MeToo motion on a worldwide scale. That Weinstein’s downfall was the product of diligent reporting, dogged persistence, and the resilience of some courageous souls is crucial to recollect. In Maria Schrader’s suave and incendiary “She Mentioned,” we’re reminded of one thing else that makes for one hell of a film: It was ladies who did it.

There may be, after all, a darkish irony to Weinstein — for thus lengthy such a Hollywood titan, a bonafide super-producer — getting taken down (once more! and good! do it extra!) through the type of awards-y, end-of-year true-life story the previous Miramax head most likely would have beloved to make, again when he was, oh, you already know, not in jail for a number of intercourse crimes. Hit him the place it hurts. However it’s additionally bitterly hilarious that Weinstein’s downfall got here by the hands of two ladies, the type of tenacious, emotional, harassed, and heroic individuals he spent a lot of his life and profession making an attempt to close down. Dozens of movies may very well be made about what Weinstein did, how Kantor and Twohey took him down, and the numerous lives his crimes disrupted, however Schrader’s would seemingly nonetheless be the most effective of the bunch, a definitive endeavor proper out the gate.

A part of that is because of Schrader’s stars — Zoe Kazan as Kantor and Carey Mulligan as Twohey, who each flip in great performances — and a part of it’s owed to how a lot info Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz handle to pack into a movie that runs simply over two hours. Choosing up simply earlier than Donald Trump’s election (Twohey first got here to the Instances to analyze the then-presidential candidate) and ending actually because the staff hits “Publish” on the October 2017 story, “She Mentioned” gives a sturdy and pin-neat take a look at the method behind reporting the story. However the movie’s biggest power goes past the fast-paced tick-tock side of its story and facilities on one thing a lot tougher to articulate than “it tells us all of the vital beats of the story.”

“She Mentioned” does that, however it additionally offers us all of the feelings of the story, too. It begins early, as Schrader strikes us by way of a crowded New York Metropolis road bustling with individuals — you already know the shot, you’ve seen it loads of instances earlier than — and as an alternative takes time to give attention to ladies, numerous them, common ladies simply shifting about their days, speaking on the cellphone, going to work, hopping on the subway. Girls. All over the place. This story may very well be about any of them. It’s, nevertheless, principally about two of them, and Schrader and her stars rigorously construct complete emotional worlds for these on-screen variations of Jodi and Megan.

Each ladies are battling work-life steadiness because the movie opens (and also you additionally get the sense that the second you say “work-life steadiness” to them, they’d bust out laughing). Megan will be the extra outwardly cool, calm, and picked up one, however Mulligan — at all times so good at enjoying ladies on the sting — brings apparent battle to the position. When “She Mentioned” opens, Megan is pregnant along with her first youngster. She’s additionally making an attempt to crack an investigation into Trump’s conduct towards ladies on the eve of this election. You’ll be able to think about the stress, however Schrader doesn’t ask you to. As a substitute, we witness Megan being berated, threatened, and intimidated by a large assortment of adversaries (together with one insanely discomfiting name from Trump himself). A pissed-off Invoice O’Reilly flack calls to scream at her, “ARE YOU A FEMINIST?” as she’s awaiting an early check-up at her physician’s. Somebody may solely do that job in the event that they actually, actually believed in it.

Jodi believes in it, too, even when she’s being stretched skinny at each flip. Whereas Kantor and Twohey’s work was very a lot constructed on their partnership, from the preliminary investigation to their e-book on which the movie’s script from Lenkiewicz is predicated, Schrader typically lets Kazan take the lead. “She Mentioned” wouldn’t work with out each Jodi and Megan, each Kazan and Mulligan, however the story appears to naturally run towards Jodi extra typically, and Kazan delivers at each flip. She’s tasked with the movie’s heaviest lifts, and to deem it “cathartic” when she bursts into tears within the hardest moments or “wrenching” when she should deal with the toughest elements of reporting (a scene through which she by accident lets slip a potential supply’s story involves thoughts) is diminishing. It’s greater than that.

“She Mentioned”

Courtesy of Common Photos

Schrader and her staff cleverly weave in a wide range of storytelling conceits to color a posh image, from assorted flashbacks to easily shifting by way of numerous places whereas key audio is performed (one in all Weinstein’s accusers visited him the day after he assaulted her, armed with a wire to document the interplay, and Schrader merely performs the audio because the digital camera glides by way of posh resort hallways). It’s immersive and expert storytelling that telegraphs — as ever — each info and emotion.

Weinstein’s victims run the gamut, and whereas Schrader’s movie primarily focuses on a few of the lesser-known ladies he brutalized (loads of assistants who began their careers together with his Miramax, with Samantha Morton showing as a very outspoken survivor in a single scene that stuns), “She Mentioned” additionally weaves within the tales of Weinstein’s extra well-known victims. Ashley Judd seems as herself. Rose McGowan is just a voice on the cellphone (voiced by Keilly McQuail). Gwyneth Paltrow is commonly mentioned and solely “seems” as soon as, throughout a chilling cellphone name. Equally, Weinstein is performed by actor Mike Houston, who solely reveals the again of his head (and that’s sufficient). He screams and carries on by way of numerous cellphone calls, all of them skin-crawling.

It’s not all good. A number of stilted moments in its first act — tons of journo converse, some weird bits of name-dropping, and a worrisome curiosity in following the journalists as they take completely important cellphone calls in the course of the road — threaten to dilute a little bit of its energy. That fades as Jodi and Megan push towards what we all know is inevitable, by some means nonetheless bracing ourselves for the second their story lastly floods out into the world.

Satisfying? Sure. Traumatic? Additionally sure. Crucial? the reply. They already advised you.

Grade: A-

“She Mentioned” premiered on the 2022 New York Movie Pageant. Common will launch it in theaters on Friday, November 18.

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