in , ,

NYFF Film Review: ‘She Said’ is a Brilliantly Realized Account of the Festering Wound That Is Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Abuse

Universal Pictures

Abuse impacts a victim in many ways. There’s the clear external harm, as well as the psychological damage. Those aspects are clear. That doesn’t take into account what they’ll carry with them for years, nor does it include how a lack of accountability for the abuser may embolden them. It’s corrosive, from top to bottom. In 2016 we saw an accused abuser deny his way into The White House. For years, Miramax executive Harvey Weinstein engaged in a pattern of sexual assault that showed no signs of slowing down, until a pair of journalists, as well as the very women he harassed, put a stop to it. She Said depicts that effort, focusing on the journalistic process that fueled it all. Playing at the 60th New York Film Festival, it’s a brilliant movie that makes it all absolutely captivating. I loved this film, upsetting as it may be.

She Said is a tribute not just to doing the hard work of journalism, but a testament to what can happen when survivors are given a voice. The former aspect brings to mind Spotlight and All the President’s Men, with a similar quality level. The latter is a lens on our current times, never really overtly referencing the #METOO movement but understanding that it sprouted from the work done by these women, as well as the pain caused by these men. It’s powerful stuff, distilled down into a flick that’s engrossing and impossible to turn away from.

Universal Pictures

This is the account of how New York Times investigative reporters Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) eventually broke the once in a generation story of sexual abuse/assault in Hollywood, perpetrated by none other than Harvey Weinstein. When we meet them, Megan is working on a similar story about none other than Donald Trump in the lead up to the 2016 election. Jodi is in the earliest stages of researching this story, but hitting many a dead end. She reaches out to Megan, combining their efforts to tackle an investigation they’re hardly prepared for. Jodie is a young mother and Megan has a newborn, but it quickly consumes them.

Supported at the paper by Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson) and Dean Baquet (Andre Braugher) and by spouses at home, the reporters dig in, chasing down sources. They’re reluctant to speak at first, then to go on the record. But as allegations pile up and time is running short to put out an article, voices begin to crack through. Whether it’s Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton) or others (Jennifer Ehle plays one other former employee, while Ashley Judd plays herself, for example), eventually it becomes the undeniable avalanche that we know it would be. Weinstein was the focus, but as is commonly known, he’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Universal Pictures

Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan are magnificent here in the central roles. They aren’t flashy parts, but ones that require a rugged determination and grit that asks a lot of a performer. Kazan and Mulligan are especially up to the task, never hitting a false note. Kazan has slightly more screen-time and handles more of the investigation, showing the wear and tear it takes on you.. She also showcases how you internalize these stories but never stop caring. It’s one of her finest performances to date. Mulligan gets to have the occasional emotional outburst, which you’ll appreciate and even need, but she’s also another good journalist in pursuit of the story. They have a chemistry together that makes for a great professional partnership. The bond they form shines through. Jennifer Ehle and Samantha Morton get to display more of the emotion, making their confessional scenes absolutely devastating. Andre Braugher and Patricia Clarkson are true supporting players, adding rock solid work, often in the background. Other members of the cast include Sean Cullen, Keilly McQuail, Tom Pelphrey, Adam Shapiro, Angela Yeoh, and more, but it’s truly Kazan and Mulligan in the spotlight.

Director Maria Schrader and writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz take the book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey that detailed their experience and impeccably honors it. They let you in on the ground floor for the nitty gritty of investigative journalism. There’s an even-keeled but relentless pace to the film, only lightly slowing down when the woman abused by Weinstein get to tell their stories. When it comes to working on the story, everything is a building block. Lenkiewicz and Schrader aren’t going for style points, but they want you to be angry, emotional, and to understand all the hard work that went into trying to bring this crime out into the light. They pull it off flawlessly.

Universal Pictures

Awards prospects for She Said should be robust. At this point, A Best Picture nomination should be in the cards, as should a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Lenkiewicz. Below the line, Nicholas Britell‘s music could definitely crack a Best Original Score lineup. As for Kazan and Mulligan, category placement will have something to say about how they do, nom-wise, but both are worthy of Best Actress consideration. One might be bumped to Best Supporting Actress, and if that’s Mulligan, she might even be a threat to win. Simply put, this film is a player.

For those who are wondering how triggering this kind of cinema might be, I certainly can’t speak to your experiences, but She Said is never graphic and doesn’t show you any abuse. The stories of assault are recounted and obviously are horribly upsetting, but nothing visual is here to compound that. There’s a lot of restraint on display, allowing the rage of the situation to be organic, never once forced upon you.

Universal Pictures

She Said is the best movie at NYFF this year and one of 2022’s best, overall. Why the festival didn’t give this one of their top three slots is beyond me, but regardless of where it plays at the fest, its spot as an absolute highlight is more than secure. The film is a hard watch at times, to be sure, but it’s never exploitative and is a must see. There may not be a more important work this season than She Said.

SCORE: ★★★★


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] 1. She Said […]


[…] NYFF Ranking1. She Said2. Sr.3. Women Talking4. TÁR5. The Inspection6. Armageddon Time7. White Noise8. Till9. Return to […]


[…] long before you wondering about its awards prospects. Even back in my review out of NYFF (here), I was already speculating about its Oscar season potential:Awards prospects for She […]



Written by Joey Magidson

Martin Scorsese To Direct First Two Episodes of a ‘Gangs of New York’ Television Series

‘Andor’ Episode Six Recap: “The Eye”