She Said is one of the best five or ten movies of 2022.
It is on a par with movies like All the President’s Men (1976) and Spotlight (2015). And that’s pretty high praise.
Like those movies, it is a real life story of real life journalism. All, are stories that history will remember for quite some time: The Watergate Scandal, the sexual misconduct of Catholic priests in Boston, and the predatory sexual behavior of one of the most powerful and abusive movie producers in Hollywood—Harvey Weinstein.
Besides a common thread of a David-and-Goliath story of relentless journalists taking on powerful adversaries, all three movies share a level of cinematic excellence that rose to the level investigations they portrayed.
While we were all familiar with the details of the Weinstein case, the story was spread out over months and years. While we had a general understanding of the accusations, denials, and coverups, chances are we never really saw the story played out in a narrative stream of events that tied everything together.
In the case of She Said, it is the story of two unstoppable New York Times reporters, Megan Twohey and Jodi Cantor (played by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan) wo became aware of a monstrous, widespread injustice and decided to tackle it, head on, despite all the resistance and obstacles that stood in their path.
They were bucking a system that refused to acknowledge the victimization of young actresses and production assistants, and they were confronting one of the most successful and powerful men in that system.
At face value, She Said might not seem like a movie worth seeing. As mentioned, we might make the mistake of thinking that we know as much as we need or want to know about the Weinstein debacle .
She Said proves otherwise, tracing the journalistic efforts with compelling detail. The screenplay is riveting.
She Said is an incredibly well-crafted movie, across the boards, from the writing (Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey) to the directing (Maria Schrader), acting (Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan and the entire supporting cast), cinematography (Natasha Braier) editing (Hansjorg WeiBbrich), and pretty much everyone else in the credits.
Their combined efforts are nothing short of brilliant.
In terms of approach, She Said isn’t afraid to recap the shocking, unpleasant elements of the story, the accounts of rape and abuse, but rather than restage these incidents, we hear them being described through the testimony of the victims. It’s largely the theater of the mind, but it works. The ugliness is no less ugly when told in unflinching detail.
One of the key accusers and witnesses who famously figured into the investigation was actress Ashley Judd, who appears in the film as herself. Other snippets from real life underscore the fact that what we are seeing actually happened.
Remarkably, Harvey himself only lurks as an evil presence throughout the movie, being mentioned in the various accounts of impropriety and abuse. When he appears near the end (played by Mike Houston), we only glimpse him photographed from behind. We only hear his intimidating voice through a speaker phone. It’s a restrained dramatic approach that works perfectly.
Just about everything in She Said works to perfection. It is an emotionally charged film that delivers.
It is never trite or exploitative. It is never overly dramatic or over the top.
In the end, She Said is a fitting tribute to a monumental journalistic effort that made headlines, captured attention, brought people to justice and changed the perception and discussion about women and victimization around the world.
She Said is only in theaters.