It’s exactly halfway through the trailer for Maria Schrader’s She Said, an adaptation of Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s nonfiction opus about sexual abuse in Hollywood, that the name “Harvey Weinstein” is finally uttered. An unnecessary expository moment in a bleak, obvious retelling of Weinstein’s crimes that appears far less interested in ongoing institutional mistreatment than it does the dramatic potential of its antagonist.
Tonally identical to Jay Roach’s Bombshell, She Said positions itself as a tense newsroom drama, following New York Times journalists Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Kantor (Zoe Kazan) as they attempt to amass testimony against Weinstein. The pair struggle to convince women to come forward, soon discovering that they are ensnared in settlements, payouts, and latent lawsuits. “The only way these women are gonna go on the record is if they all jump together,” declares Twohey, with Mulligan still coasting along her Promising Young Woman drawl.
Take a look:
The margin by which an event occurs and said event becomes dramatized for the screen is ever-slimming; so it comes as no surprise that two years after Weinstein was imprisoned, Universal jumped on a story that was so public and vulnerable to begin with. The film is also produced by Brad Pitt, an alleged domestic abuser, which speaks volumes about the performative potential of modern period films, masquerading as progress while buttressing their own malefactors. One can only hope that She Said has more to offer than soapboxing and cushy tax breaks for Hollywood’s finest.
She Said is set to open in theaters on November 18.