Would you be willing to go on record when suggesting that it just might be ''too soon'' to trust a Hollywood machine with their own stories? Well, perhaps no one is going to ask that from you since She Said is already out there. Adapting both Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's nonfiction book of the same name and Kantor, Twohey and Rebecca Corbett's articles in The New York Times, director Maria Schrader's film follows the journalistic work behind the investigation of the sexual abuse committed by Harvey Weinstein (portrayed by Mike Houston). Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan star as Twohey and Kantor, respectively, as the two join forces to work on the investigative piece after Kantor receives a tip about the assault of a well-known actor, as they try to find other victims or possible witnesses.
Somewhat surprisingly, Schrader seems to take a more discreet approach to this film than what she certainly showed with 'I'm Your Man' or 'Unorthodox'. Biggest benefit that comes from it is the focus on actors and their work as cinematographer Natasha Braier also takes a step back which often surrenders the frame for performances. Mulligan and Kazan lead the way confidently as they're tasked to be quite reactive, though the former gets a little bit more to do as her character is dealing with newfound ups and downs that come with parenthood. The supporting cast, however, is where the movie really shines as Samantha Morton (as Zelda) and Jennifer Ehle (as Laura) deliver showstopping scenes portraying two of the victims in their short appearances, while Andre Braugher counters their heavier scenes as Dean Baquet, often colliding with Weinstein and his team in a way that earns a few relieving chuckles.
Rebecca Lenkiewicz's screenplay helps immensely those actors and Schrader to keep things moving, really concentrating on the journalism as it's always clear to a viewer what the next puzzle piece is in terms of crafting the story. Only once does that focus slip away; in a single scene where our two main characters are naively discussing the bigger picture on a sidewalk, that moment and dialogue in it feeling more like a studio executive's note about hammering the point for audiences. It's a rare underestimation of their understanding in a film that otherwise has a clinical touch on the material.
In that vein, you could argue that the ''too soon'' part might have an impact on how little tension there is in harassment of these journalists and victims during and after, their second-guessing or power balance which has let this man do whatever he wants. Still, performances like in this film will age really well, just like the storytelling which respects efforts and bravery of its characters while the filmmaking overall compliments that vision sufficiently, even if not spectacularly to elevate it for endless rewatches.
Smileys: Acting, screenplay
Frowneys: One awful scene
Propaganda for actually answering your phone.