Harvey Weinstein’s life story would make a great movie. A tragedy, to be specific.
The Oscar-winning producer had the film industry under his thumb, but along the way he used that power to sexually punish starlets. He’s sitting in jail now for his crimes, but the investigative report that sealed his downfall will soon be a major motion picture.
“She Said” recalls The New York Times reporters whose expose ended Weinstein’s reign of terror.
Here’s the official description from Annapurna Pictures:
Two-time Academy Award® nominee Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman, An Education) and Zoe Kazan (The Plot Against America limited series, The Big Sick) star as New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who together broke one of the most important stories in a generation— a story that helped propel the #Metoo movement, shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood and altered American culture forever.
There’s plenty to unpack here.
Twohey and Kantor deserve a heroic film all their own. Their hard work didn’t just bring Weinstein to justice. It set in motion the flawed but explosive #MeToo movement which caught other predators before they could hurt more women.
Plus, a few journalists had sniffed around the Weinstein saga but never pursued it aggressively enough to make it happen. Kim Masters suspected the truth but shied away for a variety of reasons, some of which were valid.
Weinstein would fight back whenever pressed on his actions. Hard. And he had the legal team to make reporters very nervous.
“She Said” has plenty of powerful material to draw upon, but what else will make it to the screen? Will Hollywood have the nerve to implicate itself in Weinstein’s crimes?
How many people whispered, or even shouted, “they knew” when Weinstein’s crimes came to light?
It’s unfair to expect a single film to capture a story with so many layers. It’s still incumbent on a Hollywood production to show the industry’s role in the producer’s crimes.
One of the film’s producers should raise some eyebrows.
Brad Pitt isn’t just an Oscar-winning actor. He was acutely aware of Weinstein’s predatory behavior. He even threatened to rough Weinstein up after the producer made an advance on Pitt’s then-girlfriend, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Yet Pitt left the matter there. The actor wasn’t the superstar he’d eventually become, and he may not have known Weinstein’s pattern of sexual abuse at the time.
Did Pitt learn more as time went on? How many others knew, or heard enough to think they should tell someone before Weinstein struck again?
Quentin Tarantino knew, no doubt.
The Oscar-winning director dated Mira Sorvino, who rebuffed Weinstein’s crude advances and paid a serious price for it. She says he torpedoed her career, something director Peter Jackson confirmed.
Sorvino also told not just Tarantino about it but others, too.
“I told everyone I knew. No one said, ‘Hey, this is sexual harassment. You should go to the authorities. You have a case. You should go to the police. Maybe it’s assault.’ No one said anything like that … I didn’t really understand the law and I didn’t think I was important enough to make a big enough deal over, I just kind of tried to put it to the side and keep working and go on about my life. And I think a lot of people felt that way.”
Tarantino also worked with another Weinstein victim, Uma Thurman. Yet Tarantino continued working with Weinstein up until The New York Times’ expose that sealed his professional fate.
One movie cannot contain the whole Harvey Weinstein story. “She Said” deserves to exist on its own without carrying the scandal’s full weight. And let’s hope the film doesn’t repeatedly stop cold to deliver lectures on the patriarchy.
These reporters deserve better than that, and so does the film itself.
If the drama doesn’t at least touch on the corrosive system that let Weinstein thrive, though, it’ll do his victims an injustice.