REVIEW: “She Said” is a must-watch during Women’s History Month

(From Left) Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson), Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) depicted walking through the New York Times office in New York City as they discuss the bombshell sexual harassment allegation story against Harvey Weinstein in late 2017 in the film "She Said."

During Women’s History Month, “She Said” should be mandatory viewing for anyone wanting to celebrate the efforts women have made to take charge of their own narrative. Laguna Beach Cultural Art Center is presenting a Women’s History Film Festival and is having a showing of the movie on Mar. 22. 

Released in November 2022, the film “She Said” recounts how New York Times reporters and Pulitzer Prize winners, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s rampant sexual harassment of women in the entertainment industry. 

The Weinstein story was published on Oct. 5, 2017 and ignited the #MeToo Movement, where women from all fields of work felt it was time to speak up and share their stories. Accounts of sexual harassment, abuse and violence faced in the workplace flooded news outlets and social media platforms, leading to real repercussions and real change. 

In the preface of the novel by the same name, Kantor and Twohey wrote on the atmosphere that surrounded sexual misconduct in the workplace in 2016, before the story broke. 

“Harassers were often accepted, or even cheered, as mischievous bad boys,” Kantor and Twohey wrote. “Serious consequences were rare.” 

“She Said” opens in 2016 New York City presenting Twohey as one of the first to report on the stories of women who alleged then candidate Donald Trump had sexually harassed or assaulted them. 

Jessica Leads and Rachel Crooks came forward to speak out against Trump. The film shows them receiving threats and harassment following their statements. 

In the weeks after the allegations that Trump assaulted these women went public, he was elected as 45th President of the United States. At the Women’s March that followed Trump’s inauguration, Ashley Judd, the first woman later willing to go on record about Weinstein’s abuse, delivered her “Nasty Woman” speech where she quoted Trump. 

Judd lost a “huge advertising gig” because of the words she used. 

“He used that language and got elected,” Judd said in an interview with Kantor. “I quoted him and I got fired. It is decades later, and it’s still the same sexism. You know, Jodi, I would make the same choices all over again but I would also like to work.” 

Picking up five months after Twohey’s article on the allegations against Trump, “She Said” keeps its audience in a dark place as it unveils a system of abuse that operated for decades forcing women into silence. 

Kantor’s first phone call was with Rose McGowan, an actress who worked for Weinstien. She spoke on a series of events alleging that Weinstein had forced her into a room and raped her, and that she had told multiple people after. She stated how she put herself on the line before by talking to reporters and no one had done anything.

“Can you see the law taking my side on this?” McGowan said in the same interview. 

“She Said” brought a spotlight to the fear that comes with stepping forward as a survivor of sexual trauma. One in three women in the world will be a victim of sexual violence in their lifetimes and more than two out of three go unreported. Many attribute this to the stigma around coming forward and to the common lack of legal repercussions. In the entertainment industry, it was nearly impossible to speak out against Weinstein.

“He built the silence and people complied. He produced fear and intimidation,” said one woman of Weinstein. 

He continued this intimidation in tactics he used during Kantor and Twohey’s reporting. In one scene Gwyneth Paltrow is heard on the phone describing how Weinstein came to her house unannounced, having not seen her in years. 

“He’s here,” Paltrow said. “He must know I spoke to you.” 

The film made it a point not to show Weinstein’s face throughout its runtime and not to focus on his defense of the allegations. It was a movie definitively about what she said, because for decades these women were bought out and forced into silence while carrying life-altering trauma. 

On Oct. 5, 2017 at the time of publishing, Kantor and Twohey had compiled a list of “decades of allegations, accusations of harassment, assault, rape and multiple settlements,” against Weinstein with numerous sources deciding to come forward.

Judd was the first woman to agree to be a named source in the Times article. She and all the other women who spoke out deserve their place in women’s history for their bravery in helping to dismantle decades of harassment against women in the workplace. “She Said” honors their stories. 

In the month after publication, 82 other women made similar allegations against Weinstein and #MeToo went viral. Hundreds of women’s stories from around the world were being heard for the first time. 

“She Said,” depicting this pivotal moment in history, will be screened March 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center as part of their Women’s History Month Film Festival. 

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