Why is Bollywood not making a single film on sexual harassment and the MeToo movement? Could it be because certain eminent actors and shakers of the entertainment industry have their hands dirty in the game of sex as a power? I know of at least two major scenarios floating in large corporate houses, both dismissed as “too close to home”.
Hollywood left and did, however. Their first major film after the sexual harassment scandal of Harvey Weinstein and the MeToo movement that followed is remarkable hobby work, and I’m not talking about compliments. Because in the best of cases, what Bombshell is doing is replicating the incidents that had happened at that time, down to a double image of the star anchor of Fox Megyn Kelly, played by the superb Charlize Theron, who looks so much like the famous host in this film that she is barely recognizable.
Nicole Kidman tried Gretchen Carlson, who initiated the move to expose Fox boss Roger Aisles (played with the supreme conviction of John Lithgow) seems rather lukewarm in comparison. Where she should have been convincing, Nicole is passive and correct, as if she was afraid of getting her hands dirty by washing dirty clothes. But the laundry is washed, because a number of women present their stories of titillating torture in their boss’ interior room.
I found Bombshell to be too limited in time. It took much more space than the 108 minutes allocated by the carefree editor (Jon Poll) to give all the characters a coherent and convincing voice. There are over 40 main characters (including veteran Clockwork Orange actor Malcolm Mcdonell as Rupert Murdoch) in this tale of hormonal activity. To be heard, they must be viewed as individuals rather than a group of recently empowered women who are trying to grasp a few words marginally.
Unfortunately, this is how the story is presented. The film ends up imitating an editorial room par excellence. Everyone is in a hurry. What we get are glimpses, albeit sometimes vivid, of lives linked to ambition and pride. While we only see a glimpse into the family life of Megyn Kelly (supportive husband, undemanding daughter), we see nothing of Gretchen Carlson’s life outside the newsroom.
The female protagonist with maximum airtime in this film is Margla Robbie, Kayla Pospisil. And it is not even real. The fictional character has the only really nagging sequence of sexual harassment that makes us cringe for all the wrong reasons. The way Lithgow orders Robbie to “show off her legs” and her wheezy, breathable approval when she forces him, have crawled my flesh. There are no other “revealing” moments in the film. Most of them don’t get angry or motivate. Bombshell frustrated me. Did I forget something?