Bombshell: Film Review

I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter expressing their shock at how well Bombshell has been doing in the nominations this awards season, but I’m not surprised it all – I think the film is terrific and the leads deserve the recognition.

The film focuses on three female Fox News employees – Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) – and the sexual harassment allegations they make against CEO and chairman Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) in 2016.

I don’t like what Fox News stands for and I’ve always had a negative view of former news anchor Kelly (I don’t really know why) so it was impressive that Bombshell made me feel for these women, even though their views are so drastically far from my own, particularly Kayla, who is a very religious Republican who has been dreaming of working at Fox News for years. But that’s thanks to the stellar script by Charles Randolph and the performances.

Theron is fantastic as Kelly – someone who is torn between telling the truth and pretending nothing happened for the sake of her career – and she sounded quite like her and looked SO much like her. Her transformation is astonishing and the hair and make-up team deserve their Oscar nomination. But the standout performer for me was Robbie, who plays a composite character crafted out of testimonials from real women. She is new at the company and soon finds out what she needs to do to progress. Her scenes with Ailes are so uncomfortable and she is the character the audience will emotionally connect to the most. She isn’t as strong as the other two, she is vulnerable and powerless and being exploited. There is an emotional scene in which she delivers a raw performance that killed me. There and then I thought: ‘She needs a nomination for this’. So I’m glad she has been recognised – she won’t win though.

Kidman gives a strong performance but it’s almost like she’s in a different film. She very rarely interacts with the other two and most of her scenes take place at her home rather in the newsroom. I thought it was an odd decision to sideline Carlson and focus on Kelly considering Carlson was the brave one who spoke out first and got the ball rolling. She made things happen, so she should have had more screen time.

Besides the three leads, I also need to give a shout out to Kate McKinnon – who is awesome in everything – for playing the most likeable person – Jess, a Fox News employee who is secretly gay and a Democrat. Jess is Kayla’s close friend and lover and she stands for the people who knew about the sexual harassment but turned a blind eye. There are also a ton of other famous faces who pop up briefly in this, such as Allison Janney, Connie Britton, Mark Duplass, Rob Delaney, Malcolm McDowell, and Ashley Greene.

The storytelling style reminded me of The Big Short in a way, with fourth-wall-breaking and an informational segment to explain the structure of the Fox News building. I wasn’t sure that was going to work for such a sensitive subject so thankfully this is abandoned after a while. It still has moments outside of the main narrative, with one of the most impactful being some of the horrifying testimonials from Ailes’ real accusers.

Bombshell is a gripping, powerful, important movie that is so relevant now. It is definitely worth a watch.

In cinemas from Friday 17th January

Rating: 4/5

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