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She Said

Maria Schrader’s investigative reporters film is a competently gripping watch

The #MeToo movement was sparked by several societal factors, from the rise of misogynistic political figures like Donald Trump, to the reckoning in Fox News of anchors and executives such as Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. However, what many have marked as the true beginning of the #MeToo movement, was the exposé of Hollywood megaproducer Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual harassment. This has now been dramatized on screen with the film She Said (2022).

She Said follows New York Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carrey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) in 2017 as they investigate and uncover the vast ring of abuse and sexual harassment that Harvey Weinstein waged over young actresses, and the larger problems of systemic abuse today.

She Said is directed by Maria Schrader. The German director is quickly becoming a unique directorial force. It’s truly admirable the ability Schrader has in bringing about lived-in and realistic approaches to the disparate subjects of imprisonment by Hassidic Jewish communities or futuristic romantic robots in the respective projects of Unorthodox (2020) and I’m Your Man (2021). With She Said, Schrader again is able to don a realism that helps humanize the day-to-day work of journalism. We see as Megan and Jodi conduct their reporting as they go about their own personal lives, from making lunch for their children to undergoing post-partum depression. This allows a feeling of an organic unfolding to occur, so that you don’t feel as if the narrative is inevitably heading towards a neat resolution, but rather a messy uncovering.

Schrader has already shown an adeptness at showing the delicate and rough scenes of abuse and harassment with Unorthodox. However, with She Said this must be translated through evidence and conversations, not with flashbacks or specific scenes showing abuse depicted. This is achieved thanks to some great atmospheric crafting and spectacular performances. This combination helps make the abuse slowly bleed into our consciousness as viewers and the figure of Weinstein to appear as a truly unstoppable monster. By the end of She Said you feel a tight fist gripping your stomach and throat, which takes a while to digest. Schrader is able to bring a justification to unearthing the abuse of famous actresses’ experiences in a way that simple text might have been easier to discard. Abuse is condemnable in any form, whether it happens to the defenseless or the famous.

Schrader pairs with Kazan and Mulligan who are both brilliant in the lead roles. They subtly grow on you as characters as their snippets of personal and professional immerse you in their experience as investigative reporters. This was a curious departure from other journalism-centered films such as All the Presidents Men (1976) or Spotlight (2015), which are solely focused on the story being investigated. The introduction of personal life helps bring about a heroic dynamic to the work that Megan and Jodi performed, as you see that they were simple citizens that achieved the takedown of one of the most notorious sexual predators of the last decades. Mulligan embodies the veteran Megan and gives her depth though the trauma of her childbirth. Kazan, meanwhile, is able to showcase the more bright-eyed of Jodi as a new reporter, while also showing the difficulty of being the mother of two.

In the end, She Said is a competent film, even if it doesn’t try too hard at reinventing the reporter-film formula. Schrader’s masterful directing helps don an immersive and lived-in aesthetic to her characters and world, which in turn helps create a slowly tightening narrative that ends up gripping viewers with the horror and pervasiveness of its central theme.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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