The near documentary level drama SHE SAID is based on a true story. It opens on a powerful image set in Ireland in 1992 with a young girl running in tears down a town street after we see her working on a movie set. It’s an important image to open on as it then cuts to 2016 right at the cusp of the Donald Trump presidential election when New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor start to get warnings of major sexual assault happening in the Hollywood system all surrounding former Miramax co-chief Harvey Weinstein who assaulted women over decades (including the woman in the opening sequence in Ireland). Played by long time favourites Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan who play Twohey and Kantor, respectively, SHE SAID kind of came and went in theatres but is now on home video where I hope this important story finds an audience.
Throughout, SHE SAID is pretty outstanding as more of a press procedural movie like SPOTLIGHT, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN or even the underrated Ron Howard gem THE PAPER. Its approach is pure; it just wants to bring the story of how two fearless reporters not only broke a story but the whole process and eventual personal problems the reporters faced. I was worried this was going to go in another direction as well; the aftermath and collateral damage was something that was not the fault of the reporters but more of society in general and the movie avoids this.
What surprised me about SHE SAID is how the story slowly unfolds and how so many different voices come into play. I noticed a real coldness between all of the reporters in the first act that seemed to break as their leads and witnesses started to form, and then I noticed more physical contact and friendliness between the two reporters who go through a lot of conflict. If there was only one quibble is that I didn’t feel the movie provided enough fear to the reporters possibly being followed or targeted for their investigation; there’s only one fleeting sequence of a van following our reporters then peeling away to get that point across, but that doesn’t entirely work as I know these journalists were targeted more heavily over the process.
Both Mulligan and Kazan are in top form here as the reporters. I could not believe how good If there’s a total MVP here, it is Samantha Morton as a key British witness who has an outstanding scene at a London restaurant that I even am bold to say is worthy of an Oscar nomination. You can feel decades of fear on her in just a few lines and the connection she makes with NAME is brief but the most important scene in the movie, right down to the moment where she provides a key document then just leaves. It’s even smart enough to hold on a shot of her as she leaves the restaurant then down the street, passing NAME once again in such a visually striking image.
Ultimately, SHE SAID is a smart movie made for adults in a sea of so many action movies, Marvel/DC fanfare and remakes cluttering the multiplexes and is also a movie made for the big screen. Although it may enrage some who wanted more Harvey bashing or more footage of him resisting the New York Times, I applaud the filmmakers deciding to take a more bold approach of following the struggle of finding the story.
About the Blu Ray:
There isn’t terribly much to say about this Blu Ray presentation. A DVD is also included, something of which I wish studios would drop. The transfer is in its proper 1.85 aspect ratio and it’s a very good looking movie showcasing its wide, open framing of offices along with pretty realistic street photography. Director Maria Schrader is also really smart to make this as much of a big screen experience as possible. With her cinematographer Natasha Braier, we get a real sense of the urgency of New York Times’ reporting along with. I also liked how the cinematic tone changes when they go to California or England, and its New York style also retains when they return to the offices. The soundtrack is in DTS Master Audio and I was quite pleased with the music score filling the room very well, but otherwise is a pretty standard dramatic soundtrack.
On the bonus front, there’s a good featurette featuring the real Twohey and Cantor about their struggle with breaking this story along with the theatrical trailer. It’s quick and to the point.
Universal has been starting to leave off the Digital Copy on their releases, an omission I am not a fan of as the included Digital Copies usually redeem to Google Play and upgrade to 4k/HDR/Dolby Vision, giving a bit of an upscale for my monitor. Even so this is a solid looking transfer that was close to what I saw theatrically. Ultimately, SHE SAID will appear on streaming services and will be a totally fine way to watch the movie and keep this important conversation going.
SHE SAID is now available on Blu Ray. Our thanks to Universal PR for sending a copy for review.