In late November, my wife and I saw the new movie She Said at the Landmark cinema Spectrum 8 in Albany. It’s about New York Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), who broke the story that helped drive the #Metoo movement, especially as it applied to the Hollywood establishment.
It felt like real journalism, partly because of the shots inside and outside the Times offices. Among the big takeaways is that good journalism is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
Finding the information and getting people to go on the record about sexual assaults by powerful people that took place years ago is difficult. When there are non-disclosure agreements involved, it’s even harder.
Add to this the reporters trying to have a semblance of a real life, with husbands and children – which felt genuine – and you also get the struggle of being working moms.
We liked it. The acting by the leads and by Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, and others was uniformly solid.
Compare and contrast
My issue is that it was a little too low-energy. I could not help but think about the film Spotlight. The stories are similar, the real-life story of a great northeastern newspaper – the Boston Globe – taking on a powerful institution – the local Roman Catholic church – over abusing the less powerful.
Spotlight, though, was tenser. In She Said, Harvey Weinstein offered threats of retaliation on the phone. But in Spotlight, it felt that if the reporters didn’t get it right, their investigative unit might have been dismantled, and the paper excoriated literally from the pulpits. In Spotlight, the movie made me feel that a lot was at stake; She Said proclaimed it but was less successful in presenting it.
Still, I would recommend She Said. It ought to be seen. It did a terrible box office, despite decent reviews. There were fewer than a dozen people at our Thursday matinee, two men and the rest, women.