It’s easy to write off the long-legged, thick-eyelashed and Spanx-bedecked female personalities of Fox News as the Anchor Barbies they strive to be. And to be sure, that right-wing, regressive stance doesn’t engender sympathy for their characters. But it would be a mistake to discount the power of their story—and how their actions helped shove off a movement that took down some gross dudes who heretofore seemed untouchable.
Bombshell is hands-down one of the best choices on the big screen this blockbuster holiday season. The eye-catching trio of blondes who make up its core cast is almost an intergenerational look. With Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, and Margot Robbie as a fictional catch-all for the new set, Kayla Pospisil, they represent decades of women journalists fighting their way through through corporate television media, its pervasive sexism and worse.
Carlson’s post-termination lawsuit against network executive Roger Ailes for sexual harassment was the precipitating event for story, yet it’s Kelly’s decision about whether to stick her neck out as a second high-profile woman making similar allegations that makes up the central plot tension in the retelling.
Theron, also a producer, nails Kelly from the voice and posture to the tips of her pointy shoes—with big props to facial prosthetics and a crack makeup team that the New York Times is already naming on the Oscar shortlist.
Makeup and prosthetics also transform John Lithgow into the corpulent, predatory Ailes—utterly unlikeable and smarmy. In one scene with Robbie, the isolated sounds of their breathing and his fidgeting in the chair are enough to tell a long, terrorizing story.
The tone of the whole production leaves room for the audience to cheer for the obvious heroines and hiss at the blatant villains, even get in a few chuckles and maybe a tear or two. How those lines are blurred—even in who is labeled as winner and loser—also factors into what makes this one a hit.
+Fierce female cast
-Sexism isn't over
Directed by Jay Roach
With Kidman, Robbie and Theron
Violet Crown, Regal 14, R, 109 min.