Fair and balanced? Not so much. But definitely unafraid.
Gauging by this first trailer for Bombshell (a.k.a. the Fox News exposé about how anchors Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly brought down Fox honcho Roger Ailes), subtle and thought-provoking it ain’t. Sure, a movie need not be agnostic in its point of view, even when dramatizing real-life events, but some level of subtlety would be nice.
Taking a more sensationalist approach (and maybe trying too hard to be Sorkin-esque), director Jay Roach (of HBO political movies Game Change and Recount) and writer Charles Randolph (The Big Short) appear to be posturing Bombshell as an aggressive screed, turning Ailes’ history of sexual harassment from a #MeToo scandal into a vicious tale of #MeToo empowerment. Whether the film is on the right side of issue or not doesn’t seem to be in question, but one wonders if it will hit us over the head while being so.
One can only judge so much by a trailer, but Roach’s history at HBO leaves me dubious; his political drama-satire biopics were softballs of red meat to enraged liberals, reducing the conservatives they hate into the evil caricatures they perceive them to be. The tone here seems to be the same, giving us something intent on making our blood boil rather than a challenging, thorny cluster that we actually have to wrestle with.
Even so, the cast looks great — Charlize Theron especially, who is a double-take clone of Megyn Kelly; it’s an astonishing transformation. Nicole Kidman looks promising as well in the role of harassed morning host Gretchen Carlson, and there’s Margot Robbie, too, as a fictionalized composite newsroom producer with higher aspirations. Even John Lithgow seems to be able to register a legitimate performance through a mountain of latex.
However this whole thing eventually lands, it appears destined to take the Vice slot in this year’s Oscar race, a star-studded actor’s showcase that plays to Hollywood biases and grievances, and is certain to rack up several nominations on that basis alone.
Co-starring Kate McKinnon, Allison Janney, Connie Britton, Elisabeth Röhm, Mark Duplass, and many more, Bombshell opens on December 20, 2019.
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