On October 5, 2017, the New York Times published a story by investigative reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor about the abominations committed by Harvey Weinstein over the years. That powerful Hollywood producer abused women for decades, raped them, sexually assaulted them, and it was an open secret for years, but all this was successfully covered up while the victims were silenced by paying compensation that implied an obligation not to talk about it. Of course, it was only a matter of time when the scandal from which the MeToo movement grew would get its film version, and “She Said” was based on the book written by Twohey and Kantor two years after the first article in the NY Times.
The script was written based on the book by the British playwright of Polish origin Rebecca Lenkiewicz, who together with her compatriot Pawel Pawlikovski wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-winning “Ida”, while the director was German Maria Schrader, who became famous a year earlier with the romantic sf fantasy “I’m Your Man”. And “She Said” is a film made entirely in the footsteps of classic journalistic films such as “Spotlight”, and especially “All the President’s People”. Because just as the Watergate scandal exposed by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the 1970s completely changed American society and views on politics at the time, so the scandal exposed by Twohey and Kantor had an impact on today’s social climate.
And these two young journalists, performed by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, probably intentionally act as a modern counterpart to the Woodward – Bernstein tandem embodied by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. It is a film that also shows how important investigative journalism is even today and how little has changed in these half a century in terms of how difficult it is to let such a big and important story out. How the power centers, whether it’s politics as in “All the President’s Men”, the church in “Spotlight” or Hollywood in “She Said”, will try with all their might to stop stories like this from getting out because they have no interest in changing things.
But this story is all the more complex and sensitive because not only is it the system that protects guys like Weinstein, but they had to have the courage to speak publicly about what they experienced. And it won’t be easy at all, because years and years of abuse, then cover-up, have taken their toll, and practically all of these victims have lost hope that this issue will ever be addressed and that the abuser will be punished for what he committed. And it’s really sickening and horrible what these women had to go through, and what’s most shocking is that Weinstein’s company was well aware of what was happening, but no one did anything. We see here how careers were destroyed, and threats and pressures will also be encountered by female journalists when they go deeper into this case.
It’s a film with great dynamics, exciting, poignant and finely balanced with the research and the private lives of Megan and Jodi, which will be driven by the desire to get the most solid evidence, official statements and everything that needs to be completely taken over. They are aware that all these women they are trying to reach are deeply traumatized and that it is difficult for them to even remember, let alone say, what they experienced because they are aware of what happened the last time they said anything. Fierce attacks on them, revenge and pressure began then, and as only a few years have passed since the event itself, it is the film that perfectly captures the spirit of the times and shows how the truth always comes out, even if it took a long time.