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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Paul Whitington

She Said movie review: Subtle retelling of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall speaks volumes

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play The New York Times investigative reporters in She Said

She Said (15A, 128mins)

As I write, former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is standing trial in Los Angeles on 11 counts of sexual assault and rape, these in addition to the two felonies he was convicted of in 2020. And as the current trial opened, the judge warned jurors that, in the interests of a fair trial, they should on no account watch the forthcoming feature film, She Said.

Weinstein never actually appears in Maria Schrader’s cool and measured drama, or rather, only his back, and bullish head: mostly we just hear his voice, barking down the phone at conference calls to The New York Times as he tries to bully the newspaper into not running a highly incendiary story. Bullying got Weinstein a long way, into the boardrooms of the major studios, and onto the stage of the Dolby Theatre for numerous Oscar triumphs. But thanks to the efforts of two reporters, and the bravery of some of his victims, Weinstein’s empire came crashing down in 2018, when he was arrested and charged with rape.

But Weinstein was a big fish, and when we first meet The New York Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), they’re debating the merits of pursuing such a problematic story at all. Suspecting that a tweet by the actor Rose McGowan is a reference to potential wrongdoings by Weinstein, Kantor wants her bosses to let her pursue the story.

Twohey, who will become her investigative partner, is initially sceptical. “Is this,” she wonders, “the best use of our time?” She has just spent months investigating several credible reports of sexual abuse by Donald Trump (who is also heard roaring down the phone threatening all sorts of litigation), which did nothing to halt his march to the White House. Powerful men have been getting away with this kind of stuff since time immemorial: will the Weinstein case be any different?

Kantor, though, reckons that Weinstein might be a test case, a battering ram to the bastion of male entitlement. “If this can happen to Hollywood actresses,” she says, “who else is it happening to?”

Their story will hinge on getting some of Weinstein’s victims to talk, which proves no easy business. Most have signed non-disclosure agreements, others are simply terrified.

“How did you find me?” asks one woman when Twohey doorsteps her, looking nervously beyond the reporter into the street. Eventually, with incredible patience and determination, they will persuade a few of the victims to go on record.

None of the assaults are directly depicted: instead they’re recounted in hindsight by the women themselves, most memorably by Laura Madden (Jennifer Ehle) and Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton). And as a litany of potential victims surfaces, Twohey and Kantor must work flat out to control and protect their story.

Schrader’s drama, which was written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, will inevitably be compared to the 1976 conspiracy classic, All the President’s Men. Like that film, She Said quietly celebrates the numbing grind and attention to detail involved in taking on the powerful in print. But the tone of this movie is very different: no whispered assignations in car parks, or macho, desk-thumping editors. As depicted here, The New York Times is a hushed and glassy temple where no one gets drunk or shouts “print this baby!”. And when Twohey and Kantor’s story is finally ready, we get no shots of rolling presses: instead, the editorial team hover over a computer, staring at a virtual button marked ‘print’.

But She Said is tense and gripping in its own way, its mood calmer because its reporters and most of their sources are female. And Mulligan and Kantor are excellent as Twohey and Kantor, two driven young women who can easily imagine the horrors the victims have gone through, and never push them too hard for the sake of their story. They’re prepared to sit, and wait.

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Rating: Five stars

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (12A, 140mins)

Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr, and Kathryn Hahn in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

It’s a case of go big or go home for director Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig in this hilarious sequel to Knives Out. That film crept out under the radar in 2019, and delighted audiences with its snarky postmodern take on the Agatha Christie template. As Glass Onion opens, Benoit Blanc (Craig), the world’s greatest detective (or so he’s always telling us), is bored out of his mind during a Covid lockdown when he receives a curious invitation. Tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton, and substitute your least favourite mogul here) is throwing a select party on his island paradise.

The party has a murder mystery theme, but when someone really gets killed, a visibly delighted Blanc must fire up the famous neurons and investigate. Dave Bautista plays an alt-right YouTuber, Kathryn Hahn an ambitious politician, Janelle Monáe is Bron’s embittered ex-partner, and Kate Hudson is tremendously ditsy as a muddle-headed fashion designer. It’s a massive amount of fun, too elegant and self-aware to even consider criticising, and Craig brings more depth to the conceited but lovable sleuth. More of this please.

Rating: Five stars

Bones and All (18, 131mins)

Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell in Bones and All

Luca Guadagnino likes to test the boundaries of an audience’s sympathy, and does so with compelling originality in Bones and All. Based on a YA novel by Camille DeAngelis, the film tells the story of Maren (the excellent Taylor Russell), a 17-year-old midwestern high school girl with a dreadful secret compulsion, she’s a cannibal. Her father has been hiding this gruesome fact by moving constantly to new towns. Now he’s had enough, and on her 18th birthday flees, leaving a devastated Maren to look after herself.

She soon discovers that she’s not alone, and as she goes in search of her absent mother (Chloé Sevigny), is taught how to survive and feed by a sinister older ‘eater’ called Sully (Mark Rylance). Then she meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a rakish charmer who has reluctantly accepted his nature, and kills in order to survive. Amidst all this attendant unpleasantness, Lee and Maren fall in love, but the fates are aligned against them. Unsettling, hard at times to watch, Bones and All is beautifully made, and is at once a love story, a horror film, and a dystopian study in existential despair.

Rating: Four stars

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