Thursday, December 12, 2019

Movie with Abe: Bombshell

Directed by Jay Roach
Released December 13, 2019

When powerful men are exposed as predators who have taken advantage of those who felt subservient to them, there are usually more stories to be told that haven’t yet come to light. The #metoo movement has tried to shed a light on all the people who have silently suffered, and allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein shook the industry when they came out two years ago, leading to the uncovering of many more such victims and abusers. Before that, however, there was a man whose influence was arguably even greater than Weinstein’s whose despicable behavior was finally revealed after years of misconduct.

Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) is a prominent face at Fox News, and her position puts her in the crosshairs of candidate Donald Trump when she moderates the Republican presidential debate in 2016. When another Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), is dismissed, she brings a suit against CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), claiming to have endured sexual harassment for years under the infamously tyrannical magnate. As swells of support for Ailes emerge among her colleagues, Kelly questions whether to say anything. A young up-and-coming staffer, Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), sees a bright future ahead for herself, though she quickly learns that a straight shot to the top comes with certain conditions that don’t seem right.

The events surrounding Ailes’ downfall were adapted into a Showtime miniseries, “The Loudest Voice,” that aired earlier this year. That project focused much more on Ailes himself and how he created a toxic culture at Fox News. This film takes two real-life prominent figures, Kelly and Carlson, and one invented character, Pospisil, to symbolize the famous faces and the anonymous victims who had to endure Ailes with full knowledge of the potential repercussions for speaking up about their experiences. Perhaps rightly so, Ailes is a supporting character, giving the women the chance to own their own stories and take back the narrative.

Theron undergoes an incredible physical transformation to become a dead ringer for Kelly, and she mimics her mannerisms and attitude extraordinarily. Robbie, who also shines in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” this year, delivers a formidable turn as a naïve true believer whose optimism is slowly shattered by the horror of her reality. Kidman is fine but hardly the standout, and while Lithgow does a decent job capturing Ailes’ essence, it doesn’t compare to Russell Crowe’s portrayal of the character in Showtime’s miniseries. There are so many talented women in the ensemble, including Kate McKinnon, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Liv Hewson, Allison Janney, and so many more who have what barely counts as more than a cameo that it feels like this should have been a miniseries that could more fully have delved into all of the people it features. Its flashy style and knowing tone are all too reminiscent of “Vice,” demoting this film from a great take on an exposé to an overconfident and obnoxious project that’s ultimately entertaining and enlightening even if it’s more than a bit grating.


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