Directed By Jay Roach
Starring – Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie
The Plot – A group of women decide to take on Fox News head Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network.
Rated R for sexual material and adult language throughout
– Tonal maturity. For the first act of this movie, there’s a surprising level at awkward humor that is attempted through the eyes and ears of the lunacy that is Fox News. This concerned me because I had hoped that this film remain dramatically tuned in at all times, so as not to diminish the effects or the severity of the situation that these women endured, and thankfully that’s not the case. In the same vein as the women involved in the situation, this film’s tone evolves the longer the film runs, eventually rendering it with a dose of jaw-dropping paranoia that really helps illustrate a woman’s workplace perspective. This kept the attention firmly gripping at all times, and did a service to the real life incidents, which have established an awakening in sexual harassment incidents, proving no one is big enough to get away with it.
– Transformative performances. The casting is exceptionally special in “Bombshell”, not only because the visual likenesses to their real life counterparts are especially believable, but also because their unlimited depth better maintains the frailty that wears so heavily on their internal registries. For Robbie, it’s another tear-heavy dependency that forces her Kayla to change her personality before our very eyes. She captivates extreme empathy in the heart of her unraveling situation, and there’s an air of tragedy to the way her dreams within the company come crashing down with the realization of those in charge. In addition to her, the work of Kidman is equally transfixing, cementing herself as the film’s narrator of sorts, all the while maintaining the conscience of the film’s gender, which alludes to Gretchen Carlson’s bravery to cast herself into the fire. For my money, however, it’s Theron’s turn to steal the show once more, this time losing any semblance of familiarity in her visual features to transform wholeheartedly into Megyn Kelly. What’s pivotal is it never feels like an impression, but rather a seamlessly enveloping immersion that looks and sounds like Kelly has crossed over to the silver screen, where Roach has allowed her to live through her story first hand.
– Timely relevant. Sexual abuse in the workplace is certainly nothing new, rather just its magnifying eye over the situation, especially in the Me Too era of social media. This more than anything is what crafts “Bombshell” as one of the most important films of the year that you’ll see, and offering several unapologetic truths to a self-righteous brand that constantly stretches their limits. Not only was this film informative for the very tribulations that women face every single day around the world, but it’s also inspiring in the way it teaches women to band together when no one else will. But this isn’t just a female must-see, which will dominate most of the audience take, but also a male invested one too, as it spreads consciousness across a Trump-led landscape that seems to be moving matters in the wrong direction. There are consequences to what many male-dominated companies are depositing, and it’s my hope that any one of them who watches the movie will understand that any kind of abuse towards women or anyone else is unacceptable in any measure.
– Revealing. Aside from the graphic details of each woman’s claim, which are depicted in a way that holds nothing back in dialogue or visualization with what they endured, the film is also a refreshingly detailed vantage point of a newsroom in a daily tailspin of pre-determining programming. There are fast-paced meetings where the silliness of the topic gets pushed to the forefront, an overall summary for the kind of audience that Fox News caters towards, and production interaction that captures the stakes of live television. These kind of films that offer us a rare glimpse of what takes place behind the scenes of these highly responsible jobs always fascinate me for the way they immerse the audience in the heat of the complex situation, and give us access where print simply never could. It elaborates that there are many hands on deck to even a single story that gets valued airtime, and treats us to the knock-down, drag-out atmosphere that exists within an agenda-driven station that reaches so many.
– Special additions. During key moments in the film that take place on camera, Roach makes a calculated gamble that pays off immensely in capturing these factual events, this time in a directed capacity. He uses real footage from the events, like Trump’s actual answers to his sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly, and plays them off cohesively with Theron’s version of Kelly, to make it feel like a seamless presentation with the before and after of this interview’s influence. The editing being as crisp as it is to replicate that network feel fruitfully, keeps it from ever feeling obviously counterfeit, and the way Roach directs leads like Theron keeps her reactions subdued from stealing the attention or obviousness of the sequence. It also provides factual evidence to what we’re hearing discussed in dialogue, cementing to the few who haven’t seen these interviews the relevancy of this being anything but assuming.
– Little tweaks, big results. This is in the form of subtle make-up scheme for a few actors and actresses, that allows them to fully capture the visual capacity of their real life counterpart. For John Lithgow’s Roger Ailes, he is given a prosthetic chin and variety of wrinkled aging, which zeroes in on the believability of his aging between two respective timelines of storytelling. In addition to this, Richard Kind’s Rudy Giulliani is especially convincing, donning a bald cap and color-correction blemish to make him virtually unrecognizable. In a year where the make-up and prosthetics designs were merely mediocre, a film like “Bombshell” deserves at the very least an Oscar nomination, for crafting wielding shape-shifting results through the kind of subtly that keeps its cast from turning into cartoon charicatures of who they submerge themselves as. This could’ve went south fast, but the level of professionalism on production allows it to stand-out without it stealing the attention of the scene’s intention, or rendering unnecessary humor to how ridiculous it could look.
– Perfect set designs. The construction of the infamous Fox News studios are captured in a three-dimensional way that spares no expense in lighting scheme or productional props to grant it the strongest air of believability. Watching this film, you truly won’t believe that this isn’t the actual Fox studios that you’ve seen on-screen hundreds of times before, and its physical properties are only exceeded for me by the essence of the television presentation, that harvests the familiarity and dimensions of Fox screenshots. This not only proves that the production spared no expense in purchasing the rights for the visual likenesses that are continuously drawn to Fox News, but also keeps it from ever feeling like a movie-of-the-week biopic where the most pivotal pieces are isolated from frame or illustrated in a way that is completely foreign to our expectations.
– Inflated dialogue. One aspect of the film that constantly broke my investment and believability into the picture was the hip consistency of the lines read by a magnitude of characters, which reiterated that this was a movie over real life transferring before our eyes. It’s nowhere as badly on the level of Aaron Sorkin, nor is it able to attain the forgiveness of that for the way it vibes with the his familiarity in editing schemes, but there’s enough annoyance within these very human characters that makes their lines feel anything but natural, and full of directing influence from beyond the camera. Sometimes they are lacking the kind of nuance needed to manufacture a third side between good and bad that is simply jaded human beings, and others they are so on-the-nose that they hammer the intention home to the audience. Probably the biggest problem that I had with this film.
– Unoriginal presentation. The same handheld camera designs that Adam McKay films like “The Big Short” or “Vice” made famous is prominent in this profound reveal behind dark walls. Where it doesn’t work here is the way it not only alienates such a design midway through, in favor of a still frame composition that is the plain Jane of movie style cinematography, but its sleek movements and sharp close-ups and pan-outs cater more to a comedic tempo of film presentation and editing, if only for dry humor made more effective because of the silliness of any given situation. In addition, the breaking of the fourth wall consistently when a character looks or speaks directly at the camera, felt like an unnecessary gimmick that often took too much of the energy of momentum from letting everything play out without unnecessary narration that only convolutes what we’ve already seen played out visually.
– Personal preference. For my money, I could’ve used more scenes establishing the dynamic between the three female leads, as unfortunately we are relegated to a single instance, which is nothing more than a stare in an elevator between them, which was given away in the trailer. Without them feeling more tied together, their unity never transpires on-screen in a way that works simultaneously with the inspiring message to women that so much of the narration reaches towards. When you have a fantasy lineup like Robbie, Theron, and Kidman, as well as an excuse to captivate audiences with three familiar personalities of multimedia, you have to pull the trigger and contrast their experiences together. Without it, you almost feel like this hurricane of confrontation is teased throughout, without no satisfying pay-off to elaborate how similar each of them actually are, despite how they’re constructed feeling anything but.
My Grade: 7/10 or B-