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Bombshell Hollywood’s First Major MeToo Film Is Problematic

Bombshell

Starring Carlize Theron.  Nicole  Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow

Directed by  Jay Roach

Rating: ** ½ (two and a half stars)

 Why is Bollywood not making a single  film about sexual harassment and the MeToo movement? Could  it be because  some prominent movers  and shakers of  the entertainment industry  have their  hands sullied  in  the  sex-as-a-powertool  sleaze? I know of at least  two  major screenplays floating around in the major corporate  houses , both being  rejected as  “too close to home.”

Hollywood has  gone and done  it, though. Their first   major film after the  Harvey Weinstein sex-domination scandal and the ensuing MeToo movement  is a remarkable work  of recreation, and  I  don’t mean that as  compliment, Because  at  its best , what Bombshell does is to  do a replica of  the incidents  that  occurred at that time, down to a doppelganger  image  of Fox  star-anchor Megyn Kelly  played  by  the stunning Charlize Theron who looks so much like Megyn in this film that the actress is unrecognizable.

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Nicole Kidman’s  Gretchan Carlson who initiated the move to expose the Fox  boss  Roger Aisles(played with supreme  conviction  by John Lithgow)comes  across as rather tepid  in comparison. Where she should have been persuasive, Nicole is passive and  proper as though afraid to get her hands soiled  while washing the  dirty linen.

But  the linen does get washed, as  a  number of women come  forward with  their  tales of titillating torture  in their boss’ inner chamber.

I  found  Bombshell  to be too timebound.It needed a lot more space than the 108 minutes allotted by the  unsparing editor(Jon Poll) to give  all the characters a coherent and cogent  voice. There are over 40  major  characters(including the  veteran Clockwork Orange actor Malcom Mcdonell as Rupert Murdoch)   in  this tale of hormonal  hecticity . To be heard  they  must  be seen as individuals rather than a cluster of lately-empowered  women trying to get a few words in edgewise.

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Regrettably,  this  is how the narrative comes  across. The  film  ends up  mimicking  a newsroom. Everybody is in  a  hurry. What we  get are  glimpses, albeit vivid at times,of lives tethered  to  ambition and pride. While we see just glimpses of Megyn Kelly’s homelife(supportive husband, undemanding daughter) we see  nothing  of  Gretchan Carlson’s life outside the newsroom.

 The  female protagonist  with maximum airtime in this film is Margot Robbie’s Kayla Pospisil.And she  isn’t even  real. The madeup character  has  the one truly incriminating sequence  of sexual harassment which makes us cringe for all the wrong reasons. The way Lithgow commands Robbie to “show her legs” and his wheezing hard-breathing approval when she obliges, made my flesh crawl.

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There aren’t  any other such  “revealing”   moments  in the film . Most of it neither angers nor motivates. Timebomb left me  frustrated. Did I miss something?  

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