Getting to the truth: “She Said” and #MeToo
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
(1) New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) listen as executive editor Dean Baquet (Andre Braugher) tells Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein the newspaper is ready to publish a story that exposes his decades of abuse and sexual misconduct against women. (2) Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton) a former personal assistant to Weinstein in the London office, tells Kantor how he attempted to rape a new assistant during the Venice Film Festival.
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4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy; 2022; R for profanity and descriptions of sexual assault; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “Breaking the Story,” interviews with journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor
GERMAN DIRECTOR Maria Schrader (“Aimée and Jaguar,” “Unorthodox”) teams up with British screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz (“Ida”), for a film based on Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism, as well as on the book they co-wrote.
Similar to “Spotlight,” the 2015 Oscar-winning film that focused on a Boston Globe investigative team’s groundbreaking work on predatory priests, “She Said” follows New York Times reporters Twohey and Kantor as they hone in on one predator in particular: Harvey Weinstein.
Starring Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman,” “An Education”) as Twohey, and Zoe Kazan (“Big Sick”) as Kantor, with a fine supporting cast that includes Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, Angela Yeoh, Samantha Morton, and Ashley Judd (playing herself), the film depicts the long, painstaking process of gathering publishable testimony about Weinstein. Unsurprisingly, the women willing to talk to the reporters insist upon doing so off the record for fear of reprisals by Weinstein and his powerful company. It’s only when one of them (Judd) finally agrees to speak out publicly, that scores of others follow suit.
(1-3) Flashback scene in the early 1990s. A young Laura Madden (Lola Petticrew) started working on Miramax film productions in Ireland. Soon she found herself running down a Dublin street after Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room.
But long before that happens, there are three years of following leads, traveling all over the country and beyond, and tireless digging in hopes of making victims’ stories public and bringing a serial predator to justice. Twohey and Kantor encountered women who had accepted payoffs and signed non-disclosure agreements after their experiences with Weinstein, and many who were simply too traumatized and frightened to even let the reporters through the door. The film also suggests the toll this harrowing project takes on Twohey and Kantor, who were subjected to threats to their safety, as well as their states of mind. What helps keep them going is the steady support they received from their editors, their spouses, and each other – and, of course, from their deep belief in the importance of bringing the story to light.
Schrader and cinematographer Natasha Braier of Argentina captured the investigative drama on 3.4K ARRI Alexa Mini digital cameras (1.85:1 aspect ratio). It was mastered in 2K and then upconverted for its exclusive 4K digital presentation with HDR10 and Dolby Vision grading. The 4K and 1080p disc have similar fine detail and clarity, with maybe a slight edge to the 4K. The HDR toning is darker, with a wider color palette for realistic skin tones.
The production had full access to the Times midtown Manhattan headquarters and newsroom for two weeks since the newspaper’s staff was working remotely in the middle of COVID-19. They shot 75 scenes with two cameras and dozens of extras with the main actors during the summer of 2021.
On paper, the 4K also got the more enveloping eight-channel Dolby Atmos soundtrack, but in reality, we never heard a signal sound from the height speakers. The Blu-ray was encoded with the reliable six-channel DTS-HD. Both are very good, and present a naturalistic soundtrack and understated score by composer Nicholas Britell (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Moonlight”). The dialogue is crisp and clear, with English subtitles offered.
(1) Twohey receives a phone call from Presidential candidate Donald Trump, as he responds to claims Miss Utah was forcibly kissed by him when he owned the Miss America pageant. “She’s lying. You are disgusting. You are a disgusting human being,” says Trump. (2) Kantor and her family have a Sabbath candle lighting before the meal. (3) The NYT newsroom staff watches as Fox News announces the firing of its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly following an investigation into harassment allegations. (4&5) Kantor starts to investigate Weinstein. She interviews actress Ashley Judd, who told Variety Magazine in 2015 about being sexually harassed by “one of our industry’s most famous, admired-slash-reviled bosses,” without naming Weinstein. (6&7) Twohey joins the Weinstein investigation after the birth of her daughter and drives to Queens to interview a former Miramax employee (Shirley Rumierk) who had received a settlement.
The sole bonus feature “Breaking the Story,” runs only six minutes and change, but it’s interesting to see and hear the real heroes of “She Said.” Twohey admits that, while they were working on their story and overcoming the hurdles to get it published, the last thing she or Kantor imagined was that a feature film would be made about it. Kantor laughingly notes that the “first clue that it would become a movie actually came from Harvey Weinstein himself.” During an interview with him, he had joked that the story sounded so good, “I want to buy the movie rights!”
Twohey says she and Kantor "became investigative reporters because we believe so much in the power of journalism.” Adds Kantor, “We’re not activists. We’re journalists, and we believe that by telling the truth and putting certain problems on the table for everyone to discuss, we can begin solving them … even if it’s messy.”
When asked if she felt afraid while working on the story, Twohey responds, “We weren’t scared for ourselves, but for our sources, if we were not able to publish and this predator could go on hurting women. That was something terrifying to us – and motivating.” She sees the film as “inspiring … a wonderful depiction of journalism and the pursuit of truth. Truth matters.”
— Peggy Earle
(1) Twohey with her daughter Mira and husband during a walk in Central Park. (2) Twohey and Kantor team up for a possible interview. (3) Investigation Editor Rebecca Corbett (Patrica Clarkson) gives advice to her reporters. (4&5) The reporting leads to Weinstein Company financial officer Irwin Reiter (Zach Greiner) and former Miramax employee Rowena Chiu (Angela Yeoh). (6&7) Laura Madden tells Kantor and Twohey that she agrees to use her name for the story. (8) The reporters and editors read over the story one final time before publishing.