Monday, 10 February 2020

Bombshell (2019)

Bombshell poster.jpgDirector: Jay Roach
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Rating: 15
Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Rob Delaney, Mark Duplass, Liv Hewson, Malcolm McDowell, Allison Janney, Brigette Lundy-Paine

Set during the 2016 Presidential election, director Jay Roach takes a look behind the scenes of Fox News, casting a gaze on the toxic atmosphere which was led by founder Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). This real life story of harassment is based on the accounts of several women who worked at the corporation, and has been told through the perspectives of three characters; newscasters Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), a fictional character composed of many real life individuals.

Having made his name directing comedies, such as the Austin Powers series, Jay Roach has used the past decade to transition over to making socially relevant dramas, based on real life stories. It's a similar journey to Adam McKay, who went from Anchorman 2 to becoming an Oscar winning co-writer for The Big Short. Coincidentally, both filmmakers shared a screenwriter in Charles Randolph, but where his style fit into the unconventional depiction of the 2007 financial crisis, it comes off as ill-fitting when planted here.

What's unfortunate is, for how many good elements are within the film, they feel overwhelmed by the number of aspects which let it all down. As best as they try, the talented cast cannot make the dialogue sound any less awkward. The make-up effects are certainly impressive, but it loses its novelty when the film becomes a parade of cameos, as actors pop in to momentarily portray a real life figure.

But most regrettable is how this real-life story has been handled. Highlighting institutional abuse and sexual assault is important, especially now when more of these horrifying stories come to light. But did it have to be adapted in such a hollow and perfunctory manner? Why did it spend a scene pinning the blame on the victims? What was to be gained by resorting to this regressive ideal that those who suffered are at fault? Whatever good intentions went into telling this story, it's a shame about the execution.

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