She Said explores the investigation that took down Harvey Weinstein

Carey Mulligan (left) and Zoe Kazan star in the movie She Said. PHOTO: UNIVERSAL PICTURES/YOUTUBE

NEW YORK – She Said recounts the beginnings of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, but at its core, the new film is an ode to investigative journalism and the bravery of the women who spoke out against the former entertainment mogul.

Weinstein – sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes in New York, as he stands trial on 11 more charges in Los Angeles – once frequented the halls of the New York Film Festival, where She Said premiered last week.

But five years after his career ended in disgrace, it was Ashley Judd, the actress and activist who was one of the first figures to publicly accuse Weinstein, 70, of sexual harassment, who received a standing ovation at Manhattan’s Lincoln Centre.

In the film by German director Maria Schrader, Judd plays herself: an actress who rejects the sexual advances of a powerful producer, and pays the price over the course of her career, before years later coming out against him.

“It’s so important to be in our truth and to have our righteousness to our story,” Judd, 54, said during a panel at the film’s screening in New York, paying tribute to her “sisters” who were also victims of Weinstein.

On Oct 5, 2017, The New York Times published a bombshell article from journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who had spent months developing it.

It triggered the undoing of the once untouchable Hollywood producer, as the #MeToo movement prompted scores of women to speak out against sexual violence and sexism in the workplace, its impact reaching far beyond the world of cinema.

But She Said – a script adapted from the eponymous book the two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists wrote – spends little time on the investigation’s repercussions.

Like All The President’s Men (1976) about the Watergate scandal, or Spotlight (2015), which centred on the Boston Globe journalists who broke hundreds of stories about paedophilia in the Catholic church, She Said focuses on the dogged, patient work of investigative journalism.

“Part of the reason me and Megan are so incredibly honoured by this film is that it encapsulates so much of what we believe about journalism,” said Ms Kantor.

“We have both been journalists for a long time, but the Weinstein story sort of underlined everything we believe and put exclamation points on it.”

Ms Kantor is played by Zoe Kazan, and Carey Mulligan portrays Ms Twohey.

The film highlights the complimentary way the duo worked together: Ms Kantor empathetically speaking with victims, and Ms Twohey facing off with Weinstein’s agents.

With sober writing and direction and a score by composer Nicholas Britell, She Said builds in intensity until a final confrontation that pits The New York Times against Weinstein and his lawyers, as the article is set to go to publication.

The film from Universal Pictures, whose producers include Brad Pitt, is set for wide release on Nov 18 in the United States, and will hit European theatres in the days that follow. AFP

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