Bombshell skims surface of harassment

Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in Bombshell (IMDB/Lionsgate)

Bombshell is a dramatic look inside the controversial Fox News media empire and tells the story of the women who brought down the man who created it. Source: ACOFB.

By Peter W. Sheehan, ACOFB

The film is based loosely on the accounts of a group of women employed at Fox News who exposed its chief and founder, Roger Ailes, for perpetrating sexual harassment.

The movie is directed in quasi-documentary style, with a loose hold on the film’s underlying themes. The film uses actual footage, and is a semi-fictionalised account of three women – Megan Kelly (Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) – who brought Ailes to justice.

Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) ran Fox News with fierce resolve from 1996 to 2016, when his employment was terminated by Rupert. Fox News was the Murdoch family’s most profitable asset, and Ailes became a threat.

Kelly co-moderated the 2016 Republican debate and drew national attention to herself when she called Donald Trump out publicly on TV for his treatment of women – creating a crisis for Fox News. Carson co-anchored a popular program at Fox. Pospisil was a woman recently hired at Fox, who came from an evangelical Christian family and was abused by Ailes.

Gretchen filed a lawsuit against Ailes, and Kelly, the network’s biggest star, later came forward with her own stories of harassment. Pospisil’s abuse occurs in the film’s most telling moment; she was a character introduced by the film to reflect a composite of various network employees who had to find a way of coping with Ailes’s lewd behaviour.

This movie reflects a paradox. The abuse it depicts is explosively revealing, but the film is directed and produced ultimately to entertain. The movie’s strength lies in the unsentimental depiction of female solidarity and empowerment, but fails to explore the complex dynamics of sexual harassment and attraction.

It skims the surface of discrimination but stays superficially at the edge of what it most wants to consider. In scripting and direction, it entertains with material that is emotional and seriously harrowing but deserving to be treated in greater depth.

Bombshell: Starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow. Directed by Jay Roach. Rated M (Mature themes, sexual references and coarse language). 109 min.


Bombshell (ACOFB)


2020 Film Reviews (ACOFB)

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