by Rob DiCristinoThe Insider.
Like many films based on nonfiction bestsellers, She Said comes to theaters at a bit of a disadvantage. For one thing, the story has been told before — in this case, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the New York Times journalists who originally broke the Harvey Weinstein scandal and recounted the journey in their 2019 memoir of the same name. For another, the whole thing feels like it just happened yesterday. It did, actually. We just lived through it and a thousand other sex scandals that brought some of corporate America’s most powerful abusers to justice (and got others elected president). As a result, there’s a too-familiar sting to She Said, a bit of preaching to the choir that feels less like unearthing dormant secrets and more like flicking idly through yesterday’s news feed. This isn’t to say that the story doesn’t deserve wider exposure, of course, as there are always going to be audiences that prefer a two-hour cinematic commitment to a longer literary one, but the prosaic She Said lacks the tension, drama, and character that — not yet having read it — I imagine makes its forebearer such an engaging read.
It’s hard to talk about She Said without comparing it to other true-life investigative thrillers like The Post, The Insider, and Erin Brockovich. Though those films vary in subject matter, each of them takes care to foreground the personal toll exacted by the pursuit of justice, the sacrifices their characters make for the greater good. The Insider — the crowning achievement of the genre, for my money — is especially adept at threading smaller conflicts within the larger narrative and crafting emotional arcs for its protagonists. She Said forgets this, unfortunately, leaving its audience to watch Twohey and Kantor send text messages, eat lunches, and huddle around conference tables until the story reaches its inevitable conclusion. Though attempts are made at humanizing them and the women they interview — cuts to the pair navigating their roles as wives and mothers seem to happen just as the journalism scenes are running out of steam — there is little interpersonal drama to punctuate character or complicate the narrative.