A “he said, she said” situation implies differences in perception and irreconcilable conclusions. In 2017, when New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began investigating allegations against now-convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, even securing the “she said” part of the story presented challenges, given the decades of fear his victims had experienced and the non-disclosure forms others had signed. Kantor and Twohey persisted, and they document those efforts—which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize—in their book, She Said. The film version, adapted by screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz and director Maria Schrader, is more a movie about the process of journalism than it is about the Me Too movement Kantor (an empathic Zoe Kazan) and Twohey (played with fiery intensity by Carey Mulligan) helped ignite.
Like Spotlight and All the President’s Men, the film depicts journalists working: conducting interviews; taking notes; consulting with editors (shout-outs for the always perfect Patricia Clarkson as Rebecca Corbett and Andre Braugher as Dean Baquet). Phone calls, documents and meetings don’t normally make for exciting cinematography, but She Said manages to function mostly as a thriller, if a slightly hushed one. Where it truly distinguishes itself from other journalism movies is by being singularly and empathetically focused on women: the female journalists who struggle to balance their own lives as new mothers while demonstrating unassailable commitment to their subjects, and those brave female subjects, such as Weinstein’s former assistant Laura Madden (Jennifer Ehle) and Ashley Judd, playing herself.
In their book, Kantor and Twohey say they intended the title She Said to be complicated: “We write about those who did speak out, along with other women who chose not to, and the nuances of how and when and why.” In so doing, their work serves as a roadmap for dismantling entrenched systems of abuse and power.
+ Inspiring true story
– Not enough Patricia Clarkson
Directed by Schrader
With Kazan, Mulligan, Corbett
Violet Crown, R, 129 min.