I watched She Said, given that I always loved good newspaper movies, and hated Harvey Weinstein.
Even back in the day, when Harvey was most notorious for meddling with movies and filmmakers at Miramax—and not yet publicly known for systematically abusing, harassing and raping his employees and movie stars—I thought he sounded like a monster.
She Said is wonderfully and tastefully made, and Carey Mulligan, in particular, is always an arresting screen presence.
I was taken by the score, thinking, “This is very well done, who is this?” Well, no surprise, Nicholas Britell, fast becoming one of my favorites (Succession, Andor, Don’t Look Up).
Unfortunately what I also remember about She Said is that it bombed utterly at the box office. It seemed to be a perfect storm of the theatrical business still being in the toilet from Covid while the entire world can’t stand to hear one more sick thing about Harvey Weinstein.
But there does seem to be an undercurrent of sexism in how this movie was blown off for making an unabashedly feminist statement. And I almost didn’t write about it, or mention this aspect of it, because I don’t want to be seen as “piling on.”
However, I will say...there is something, not simplistic about the film, but perhaps lacking in some necessary aspect of dramatic irony that would have added dimension to the serious tone.
In All the President’s Men, Woodward and Bernstein are going against the cultural bedrock assumption—you can trust the President. They were saying, “No, look at this and this and this—do you think there’s more here?”
Or, in Spotlight, the shocking revelation that the Catholic Church is protecting child abusers: One of the world’s most venerated institutions, heralded as a force for good—in the name of God—is perpetrating one of the most evil crimes? That’s dramatic irony.
In She Said, it’s not like Harvey Weinstein was a pillar of American integrity. He was already well-known as this successful but volatile and unpleasant figure. He was fat and gross and crude and a bully and, at best, some kind of necessary evil for, I don’t know, certain movies and stars to win Oscars?
Well, no, he wasn’t necessary at all—just evil.
The real disgusting thing about the Weinstein scandal (well covered in the film) is that so many people knew about it, certainly within the business—and covered it up because, in one way or another, they were on the take. It’s a story of corruption.
But there’s not “another side” to the story, morally. In A Few Good Men, we all remember Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) on the stand, “You need me on that wall!”
It’s an understandable argument, at least. Yeah, there is a wall and we do need it defended!
In She Said, there’s cultural complexity—sexism and abuse has been tolerated for ages—and a rich (albeit brief) look at the home lives of the two protagonists, but not in the basic dramatic premise. Harvey Weinstein had often released really good and important movies—but the filmmakers were responsible for them. He often messed them up, if anything.
Weinstein was a pig and a monster and I’m glad those reporters got him. And I’m glad they made a good movie about it.
It just so happened the good guys here were so good, and the bad guy so bad, that the film doesn’t have the thematic complexity you’d expect or need from the elevated tone.
It makes the movie not just reverent, but kind of medicinal.
I mean, not to spitball a different movie, but if it was about a sexist, womanizing dick who was assigned the story and ended up taking down Weinstein—that would have been a way more interesting movie. But it’s not what happened!