The Harvey Weinstein Exposé Drama Talks A Lot But Unearths Little [NYFF]

Directed by German director Maria Schrader (best known for directing Netflix’s “Unorthodox” and the 2021 sci-fi romance “I’m Your Man”), “She Said” is an impassioned but pedestrian journalism drama that manages to translate little of the heat from its hot-button subject. Despite a furious performance from Carey Mulligan, who plays no-nonsense journalist Megan Twohey, alongside Zoe Kazan’s endearingly uncertain journalist Jodi Kantor, and impressive supporting turns from Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Samantha Morton, and Jennifer Ehle, “She Said” has a lot to say about what happened, but little to add to it — instead feeling like a mechanical rehash of things we already knew.

The movie opens in 1992 Ireland, where a young woman walking a dog happens upon an 18th-century warship — it’s a film production, and her friend is on the crew. She happily joins the crew and gets a job as a runner, until we smash cut to her sprinting down the street with her clothes askew and tears running down her face. Twenty-odd years later in New York City, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor are two ace reporters at the New York Times, Megan working on an exposé of presidential candidate Donald Trump and Jodi reporting on immigrant and refugee issues. So it’s kind of a coincidence that Jodi lands the assignment of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who had been the subject of all kinds of hush-hush stories of sexual misconduct. A rattled Megan returns after recovering from maternity leave, and a series of death threats over her Trump articles, to join Jodi on the investigation; at first quirking an eyebrow over covering a story about affluent actresses, before making a few calls and getting blocked by a few dozen NDAs reveals to her that this abuse is not isolated, it’s systemic.

Mulligan manages to make a meal out of Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s rather dry script, which is frontloaded with enough buzzwords that it almost feels like a satire of a Me Too movie. It doesn’t help that it’s a weak impersonator of Rose McGowan’s voice that kicks off the investigation — calling Kazan’s intrepid but easily starstruck Jodi about being ignored for her stories about Weinstein. Nor does it help when Ashley Judd appears in the film to play herself, anchoring herself as a key figure in Weinstein’s fall and a stiff performer when it comes to reenacting her own life. “She Said” is all too aware of its importance and place in Hollywood, which diminishes its potential impact and power. Only when Mulligan’s Megan hits the pavement to begin the investigation proper, and when Morton and Ehle appear to play the young assistants that Weinstein victimized, does the film feel like it starts to come into its own. But even then, it never quite reaches the heights it aspires to.

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