SHE SAID TRACES THE BEGINNING OF #MeToo
Women no longer play traditional roles. They work alongside men at most occupations today, including all layers of the film industry. However, gossip in Hollywood has long indicated that men doing the hiring impose a requirement on women when they open their pants during a job interview. Even after they are hired, men with power over them can make special requests, which mean an end to their careers if turned down.
She Said begins in London during 1990, when Laura Madden (played by Lola Petticrew) is put through the test and later runs down the street faster than she even ran before. The next scene is in New York during 2016, with a brief snippet about Donald Trump’s explanation that what he said on tape about grabbing pussy was just “locker room” boasting.
Next, New York Times reporter Zoe Kazan (Jodi Kantor) learns about someone who suffered sexually at the hands of Harvey Weinstein (Mike Houston) and begins to look into the matter, supported by other New York Times staff, in particular Meghan Tuohey (Carey Mulligan). Tiny details of the incidents from the women formerly attacked serve to construct an overall pattern of how Weinstein was able to get his way with so many women without displaying any ugly scene.
When the film ends, the New York Times has broken the story about Weinstein, with credits afterward indicating that the story triggered 82 more women to come forward, Weinstein’s conviction for the offenses and a sentence of 23 years, with charges pending in London and Los Angeles.
What is most fascinating is the struggle to get women on the record for the story, as the reporters hear about several cases settled out of court with cash payments, but nobody is willing to divulge their names in public. The two reporters track down many women, and enough tidbits of information are collected so that at least one story is corroborated—notably the woman in England who ran so fast from her time with Weinstein in 1990 but during 2016 (played by Jennifer Ehle) is eager to pin the crime on him. The film provides a window into how journalistic investigations unfold, both pursuing sources of information and how the home office assists in a manner similar to All the President’s Men, the 1976 film about how Watergate was exposed by two Washington Post reporters.
Based on the book written by the two reporters, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement (2019), the Political Film Society has nominated She Said, directed by Maria Schrader, not just for advancing the cause of human rights but also the exposé of how the story was developed. MH