“She Said” is a biographical drama film that presents a fictional retelling of the work of two New York Times journalists, which essentially inspired the international #MeToo movement. With Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor in focus, the film charts their experience of finding the victims, convincing them to open up, and also navigating through the legal complications involved with the case. Till then, Harvey Weinstein was considered a distinguished Hollywood producer and a man not to be messed with, until Megan and Jodi’s report unmasked him for the predator and rapist that he is. “She Said” is a good, precise presentation of this and is easy to recommend, mostly for its storytelling.
‘She Said’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
In 2016, with the US Presidential Elections right around the corner, New York Times investigative reporter Megan Twohey is seen preparing an extensively researched article about reports of sexual harassment against candidate Donald Trump. Obviously, hoping that this article would have a real-world impact, Megan puts in all her effort, even through her own early stages of pregnancy. Trump was possibly shaken by the article, too, as he kept responding that the women with such accusations against him were lying and threatened to sue the New York Times if they did not take the article down. But despite all of this, in what many might still consider a shock, Donald Trump was elected President of the USA, and Megan was utterly dejected by the selective blindness of people.
Five months later, news of Bill O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News broke out following The New York Times report on the matter. The erstwhile executive editor Dean Baquet and one of the senior editors, Rebecca Corbett, ask their team to try and find more investigative reports on sexual harassment in the workplace, wanting to bring the matter into mainstream public focus. It was around this time that another investigative reporter, Jodi Kantor, first got to know about actress Rose McGowan’s tweets saying that she had been raped by a distinguished producer, with the accused tipped to be Harvey Weinstein. Jodi immediately starts to approach the possible story as more names like that of Ashley Judd start to come up, and the journalist gets in touch with each of them, including Rose McGowan. However, none of them is ready to talk to the New York Times about their allegations, some of which were made quite some time ago, mostly because of a general belief that nothing would come of it. The women, who had already lost ground in their careers due to Weinstein’s and the entire industry’s treatment of them, did not find confidence in Jodi all of a sudden. Confused about what to do next, Jodi contacts Megan, who was on maternity leave at the time and asks her to join her for this report. Soon, the two of them manage to come up with an article that is able to shake up established systems and reveal Hollywood’s horrible secrets.
How True Are The Events Shown In The Film?
To cut to the chase right away, the events presented in “She Said” are in exact accordance with what actually happened. The film is actually based on a book titled “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement,” written by the two very talented journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. The film gives vivid details about Weinstein’s assault on the numerous women associated with Miramax, ranging from actresses to assistants, and they are shown in conversations throughout instead of putting stress on visually showing any resemblance, which is commendable. In all of the cases, Weinstein forced himself on each of the women in the most casual of ways, as if it were only expected of them. In many of the instances, the victims recall that he actually mentioned explicit acts or being naked as a part of their job, especially in the case of the assistants. After each of these incidents, when the women lashed out or even protested mildly against these acts, Weinstein made sure that they were fired from their jobs and also indirectly blacklisted from the entire industry. When the women approached other companies for jobs in the film industry after their encounter with Weinstein, all such companies had the same question—why had they left, or failed to continue work, at Miramax? It was almost like the entire industry was functioning within a system that knew Harvey Weinstein was a predator and carefully worked past that detail every time something like this would come up. At one stage of her investigation, Megan learned of a case of sexual assault filed against Weinstein by an employee in New York, but it was very quickly dropped. Megan got in touch with one of the workers from the district attorney’s office at the time and asked about why this had happened. This made it very clear that Weinstein had been using his influence and connections to bury all these charges, and this case, too, was dropped by the DA’s office, stating that it lacked enough evidence. Through their investigation, Megan and Jodi also revealed that, in situations like this, Harvey Weinstein also manipulated the press by giving them opportunities to cover and write stories or interview actors with ease, using his influence. In return, he ensured that the press never reported anything against him.
There was also the clear matter of the system itself trying to protect figures like Weinstein, or at least to keep workers, especially women, in the dark about such occurrences in the industry. In one instance, Megan had a word with a representative at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after she learned that multiple women had filed complaints against indecency at the workplace at Miramax. The representative clearly states that although the Commission does keep a record of which companies have multiple such complaints against them, it is not allowed to reveal this information to the public. As Megan points out with surprise, the entire reason for the existence of such a commission was to ensure that women did not face such atrocities, and yet, no such information about a company would be provided to a new employee when she chooses to join the company. After some major leads in the investigation, the journalists managed to get hold of even more recognized names, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, to talk about the case, but the fear of Weinstein’s influential control loomed over them as well. Ultimately, it came down to trying to write about numerous cases of sexual assault that had been filed at Miramax against the top boss, all of which had so far resulted in nothing other than personal monetary settlements. Jodi and Megan individually met with Weinstein’s current lawyer and the ex-CFO of Miramax, who worked at the company when Weinstein was associated with it. The lawyer, who was really just a mouthpiece for Harvey Weinstein himself, kept claiming that his client had committed no such wrongdoings and put all the blame on the women who were complaining. There were also certain statements by Weinstein and his PR team during this time that spoke of the man’s apparently outdated ideas of workplace decency and consent and assured that the producer was making it a point to mend his ways. However, they never admitted to the allegations that were being brought against him. It was ultimately the determined journalists’ perseverance and constant knocking on every significant door that brought on important changes to the situation. The producer’s lawyer admitted to Megan that there had been eight to twelve monetary settlements made by Weinstein to women, actors, and assistants to ensure that they remained silent about their complaints of harassment and assault against him. On the other hand, the ex-CFO had doubts that Weinstein was using the company’s money to have extramarital affairs but did not seem to know that he was actually making these settlements with the money. When Jodi tells him about this at the end, the man allows her to make use of anything incriminating she could find on his phone, and Jodi finds a piece of crucial evidence. An ex-executive had sent a memo to the board at Miramax complaining about Weinstein’s offenses, but this had been intentionally hushed up by the company to protect Harvey and his image. Jodi now finds this on the ex-CFO’s phone, and with this, she and Megan start writing their crucial article against Weinstein and Hollywood for the New York Times.
Along with their findings of the truth, “She Said” also provides glimpses of how it actually affected Jodi and Megan’s personal lives. Jodi, who was a mother of two young children, could hardly find time for her family and had to heavily rely on the help of her husband. Megan, on the other hand, had just become a mother, and she went through a tough phase of postpartum depression too, which was ultimately helped by her resumption at work. It has to be mentioned that “She Said” shows the two husbands as silent but ever-present figures who provide immense support to their wives and, in a way, ensure that they are able to achieve what they want. The film also obviously paints a picture of the excruciating agony and fear that the victims had to live through without any work or having to change fields after they had been inappropriately touched or ordered to perform sexual favors. One downside of the film, at least by personal preference, would be that the emphasis on such emotional or individual factors appears rarely and scarcely in the film, often overshadowed by the factual retelling of the whole matter. Once Jody and Megan were done with their initial copy of the article, the New York Times reached out to Weinstein and his company for any comments, and the man ultimately visited the newspaper’s head office with his team. Here too, he kept stating that all these allegations were false and being made by women who just wanted to make use of his name, and he also threatened to help other publications write articles to counter the one by Jody and Megan.
‘She Said’ Ending Explained: What Ultimately Happened To Harvey Weinstein?
As a sort of last resort, Weinstein did involve Variety and the Hollywood Reporter by talking to them about the New York Times article that was being written against him. This involvement made the two publications bring out their own articles about the NY Times article, therefore taking away any privacy or confidentiality from the latter newspaper’s report. With time running out, Jody and Megan had to find solid evidence to publish their article, and this soon came when Ashley Judd called up Jody and told her that she was ready to be named as one of the victims in the article. One of the former assistants to Weinstein, Laura Madden, also agreed to the same, and this gave a solid binding to the article. Finally, after getting responses fit to be included from Weinstein himself, the article was published for the world to read. By this time, Weinstein had already made a statement that he was taking a leave of absence from his company, to avoid the public eye amidst the controversy that was soon coming. Within a month following the publication of the article, 82 women accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. In 2020, the man was finally convicted of rape and sexual assault and has been serving a 23-year sentence since then. On the other side, Jodi Cantor and Megan Twohey managed to encourage a global discussion about sexual harassment faced by women in workplaces and other walks of life. Their work, which can be considered a historic piece of investigative journalism, also managed to bring about changes to laws and structures that enabled such incidents to take place.
“She Said” is a 2022 Biopic Drama film directed by Maria Schrader.