“She Said”, a tribute to Weinstein’s detractors

This is a true story that changed the world. Those of the mouths, harassed, assaulted women whose silence was bought. Acts made possible by a system that protects aggressors in positions of power, and crushes victims until they take away their voice. Two journalists returned their word to some of these women, and together they helped launch an unprecedented movement.

5 years after #MeToo, the case of Harvey Weinstein, named after the American producer who was convicted in 2020 of raping and sexually assaulting women, was brought to the cinema for the first time in a fiction film. He Said directed by Maria Schrader (Not ordinary) and written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Ida) according to the book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement (2019), by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, she takes herself behind the scenes of investigative journalism. Harvey Weinstein Has Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accused for Decades.

These two journalists from New York Times was the first to post, on October 5, 2017, what were then “couch promotion” rumors. Rumors that have existed for decades, and that some artists have already tried to criticize. Without listening. This first-ever article explains how the producer and his associates bought the silence of sexual assault victims.

Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s names mean nothing to you? Perhaps because it was Ronan Farrow who went down in history as the first to reveal the scandal on October 10, 2017. The three talented journalists, however, won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize together in 2018 for their work on the case of Weinstein.

The synopsis of He Said

Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan), two reporters from the New York Times, will investigate cases of sexual assault in Hollywood. Their investigation of more than a year took them across the Atlantic in the footsteps of the victims of the cinema magnate Harvey Weinstein – whether they were strangers or celebrities -, the production company Miramax and a whole system that participates in silencing these survivors. by binding them to financial and confidentiality agreements. The publication of their article in October 2017 will spark one of the biggest scandals in the film industry and, above all, help launch the global #MeToo wave.

We liked: the moving sorority and the veiled violence

The Power of Sisterhood: The two actresses who play the journalists, Carey Mulligan (Gatsby the beautiful) and Zoe Kazan (The Great Pain) – city lovers -, offer us a sensitive and fair game, and their complexity shines on the screen. If the two protagonists know little of each other at the beginning of the film, their boring investigation brings them closer and binds them in a strong friendship, the one born when with us in a severe and difficult trial.

Likewise, we salute the great courage of the women victims of Weinstein who participated in the film, as consultants or in the role of a character. Actress and feminist activist Ashley Judd, for example, took on her own role. Gwyneth Paltrow does not physically appear in the film, but participates in a phone chat with Jodi Kantor. Katherine Kendall and Sarah Ann Masse, two actresses who have criticized Weinstein, play secondary characters.

As for Laura Madden, the first victim who agreed to speak on her behalf in the article and played by Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice), he said different“I have many reservations, from the first days I spoke to Jodi for the original article, then for her book and now for the film. […] It hurts to be exposed to something you’ve kept quiet for decades. This experience, which happened in my early twenties, is not the defining event of my life, and yet sometimes I feel that the film reduces it to a single, terrible event. “

“The other side is that I also feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to create something positive from the ashes of the Weinstein attack.”

Violence is simply suggested: The strong point of He Said, which also makes it a feminist film, is not to participate in the glamorization or spectacularization of sexual violence. Weinstein’s victims spoke of their ordeal to journalists, sometimes in detail, but none of the violent images were shown on screen.

For example, one of the scenes – very unusual at first glance – shows the corridor of a hotel, desert. The camera moves, but we only see images of this empty and scary hallway, and the sound takes on its full importance here. We hear the voice of Harvey Weintein, who chats with model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. He tried to lure her to his room, insisting a lot. He even admitted that he had a habit of forcing women and the young woman seemed scared. This chilling recording is part of the evidence against the producer.

Behind the scenes of investigative journalism: There, we are certainly not very objective, but it is always interesting to hide behind the scenes of a great journalistic investigation that contributes to the movement of society. Like cult and Oscar-winning films The President’s people (1976) and spotlight (2015), unique investigations into cinema and extraordinary things that will impress critics. Thus, He Said have to do it. If it’s less surprising than the two films mentioned above, it speaks volumes about how American journalism works.

We don’t like much: the rhythm, the absence of secondary characters and the gameplay

Rhythm: Lasting more than two hours, the film is a series of rather repetitive sequences of discussions between journalists, searches for witnesses and interviews with survivors. The game is very stable, and the urban decorations do not bring much additional value, and the moments of increased pressure are rare. This step, far from breathless investigative films, is nevertheless balanced by honest images and words.

The poverty of the secondary characters: The film focuses on the investigation of Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, but it also shows us scenes from the family life of the two journalists, sequences thought for fiction that do not appear in the book. And we would have liked to see more. He Said explores the difficulties for these two young mothers in reconciling their professional activities and their private lives. On rare occasions, the protagonists confide in each other about the challenges of motherhood, while Megan, who has just given birth, goes through postpartum depression. However, unlike the Netflix series Anna’s inventionwhich highlights the family tension experienced by the journalist during his investigation, his relationship with his partner and then with his newborn child, He Said hardly allow secondary characters from the journalist’s family to find a place in the story.

The same goes for their partners New York Timeswho will make brief appearances, although we love Patricia Clarkson’s acting (Sharp Objects) and Andre Braugher who comprise the officers within the prestigious American title.

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This is above all a horror story: If you feel overwhelmed by stories of sexual violence, this movie will definitely not take your mind off things. The testimonies are hard to (re)hear, the threats against journalists are chilling, and the moments when Jodi and Megan struggle to continue their investigation are frustrating, even when we know that the attacker ended up behind the scenes. bars.

Also note: systematic sexual violence in the film industry, except for what Weinstein did with the complexity of his team, is not really a theme. Thus, the danger is to present this evil person as a rare specimen (but we know that there are other monsters).

Finally, it is also because of its tenacity that this film is important. To show the roadblock represented by the criticism of violence against women. And it is also thanks to this kind of story that the victims have the opportunity – finally – to turn a page, to be empowered by brotherhood, and to remember, once again, that they are not alone.

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