“Bombshell” is directed by Jay Roach, starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie. This story centers on the real-life incident that took place at Fox News when chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was swarmed with allegations of sexual harassment forcing his inevitable resignation. Now there will certainly be mixed opinions on this film in terms of its accuracy in portraying these real-life people, and the overall thoroughness of it. There were things I liked, and some things I didn’t, so let’s dive in.
Let’s get things going with the positives. I thought the performances from Theron, Kidman, and Robbie all brought the most out of the material. Given where this script drops into real-events, and how it progresses, I felt the three leads carried the run-time. Theron was able to disappear into the role. The make-up was admittedly a slight distraction at first. But with her mannerisms, expressions, and a solid tone of phrase, Theron did an excellent job of capturing the persona of Megyn Kelly. Kidman and Robbie both brought great performances and landed their memorable scenes even with much of the spotlight being on Theron as Megyn Kelly. I think a huge positive in this one was the performance of John Lithgow as Roger Ailes. Lithgow always give off the vibe of being a simple, kind man, and for him to dive into the persona of Ailes, and to do so with a subtle seediness was impressive. He brought the needed intimidation with his eyes as well as his delivery, and he did capture the role of villain with ease.
Aside from the performances, I enjoyed the musical score. It was able to build effective tension but through an edgy, playful fashion as opposed to being more imposing. It was methodical, it made me feel like something was about to happen, and it heightened the overall atmosphere. I also felt the pacing was consistent. There was a continual progression and the script did a good enough job maneuvering through the focal characters, what they had to deal with, how it affected them, and what their responses would be. Which did keep me intrigued throughout.
As for drawbacks, I would say there were only a few but unfortunately, they each had a large impression. My primary issue was with the point-of-view of the story being focused on having a clear hero/villain dynamic. Public opinion on Megyn Kelly varies depending on who you ask but she is to put it mildly, a controversial person that has done and said many offensive things throughout her career. Most of which I would say were not ignored but shielded in the perspective of this script. And it made the story feel a bit uneven and one sided in terms of its examination of history.
Sexual harassment doesn’t vary depending on how decent a human being is. I think Kelly could have been explored with a deeper perspective to show that despite the politically incorrect actions at times, she was a human being, with rights that were violated by Ailes. I think this film tries to sugarcoat Megyn Kelly to make her more likable and sympathetic when it didn’t need to be done. And in my opinion only lessens the message the film is trying to deliver because of its lack of even thoroughness. I think Theron could have thrived had it gone deeper into who Kelly was. But this surface-level depiction hindered the focal plot.
I also felt the story-arcs of Kidman and Robbie’s characters were underdeveloped. I think there could’ve been a better balance among the trio. Kidman has her moments and she captures the impression of Gretchen Carlson, but there were times it felt like the story forgot her. And for Robbie, the fictional character in this story, I felt it was hard to connect with her and what her intentions were. Primarily because of the choppy placement of her story in the overall narrative. Despite its flaws I did enjoy it. I think it does more things well than it does bad. The performances from the entire cast make up for the lapses in the story to create an interesting film that does shine a light on sexual harassment in the workplace. But it also could’ve been better had it provided an even examination of all involved. It’s a stylish film through the scoring, and visually from direction and editing. But it’s lacking that in-depth approach you come to expect from a biopic this time of year.
BOMBSHELL – VIDEO REVIEW
BOMBSHELL (2019) OFFICIAL TRAILER #1
BOMBSHELL (2019) OFFICIAL TRAILER #2