I first read journalists Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey’s book, She Said:Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, in early 2021, and it instantly became one of my all-time favourites. Naturally, when it was announced later that year that the book was being adapted into a film starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as Twohey and Kantor respectively, I was ecstatic. Having now seen the film in theatres, I am happy to report that my enthusiasm was well-placed.
She Said is an incredible film that serves as a testament to the strength of women and sisterhood, as well as the importance of journalism and the truth in the modern day. Kantor and Twohey’s detailed and methodical recount of how they broke the story that chronicled Harvey Weinstein’s decades of abuse and assault was expertly adapted to the screen. The film is direct in its indictment of the patriarchy, while also honouring the bravery of those who spoke out against Weinstein and refused to be silenced in the face of threats and intimidation from Weinstein and his allies.
The film handles the seriousness of the subject matter with a sensitivity and honesty that is refreshing. From its portrayal of being a working mother (of which both the main characters are) to the meticulousness of investigative reporting, and – most especially – of the fear, anger and sadness felt by women throughout the film, the film shows a commitment to the truth that is evident in every aspect of the film’s design.
The first scene of the film is incredibly effective. A young woman walking her dog along a rocky beach stumbles upon a film set and is warmly welcomed by the crew, leading to future employment; a light and optimistic start for a film with such serious subject matter. Just as we begin to settle into this feeling, the film quickly cuts to the same woman crying and running down a street. It’s jarring, but tells us exactly what needs to be said: this will not be an easy film to watch.
My prior knowledge of the events of the story undoubtedly affected my viewing of the film, as I was already familiar with the major plot points. Regardless, I found myself crying at the end because of the sheer power of the story and the good that it has done for victims of sexual violence and the women’s rights movement.
The film works best when both of its main actresses share the screen. Kazan is naturally great in this, adding an emotional honesty to the film, and Mulligan is an absolute force (and the standout performance for me). Whether having a heart-felt conversation with one of Weinstein’s victims or yelling at a man to leave her alone, Mulligan commands the screen.
Kudos to the supporting cast as well, who are all great. This film would not work without strong supporting performances, and it is a testament to the depth of the talent on screen that it succeeds.
As for the technical elements of the film, it’s a solid, well-rounded effort from all departments. The screenplay by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and direction by Maria Schrader are both awesome, building on their previous work on art about female liberation to create an empathetic and stirring film. Additionally, Nicholas Britell of Moonlight (2016)and Succession (2018 –) fame, gives us another killer score to add to his impeccable discography. The film’s cinematography is somewhat understated but incredibly effective, and while I occasionally found the editing to be a little clunky, there is nothing too noticeable or detrimental to the overall effectiveness of the film.
The film ends with the publishing of Kantor and Twohey’s article; a click of a button and a quick cut to black. It doesn’t need to show us what happened after publication, because we know what happened. We lived it.
Overall, She Said is a great movie that tells the story of two journalist’s pursuit of the truth as they uncovered Hollywood’s and Harvey Weinstein’s culture of abuse while spotlighting the bravery of the women who spoke out against it. Ultimately the film shows the importance of holding abusive powers accountable and how difficult and brave it is to do so, and that women are strongest when they stand together.