Verdict: A shocking recreation of the Fox News scandal with strong performances.
The toppling of Fox News head Roger Ailes was an important moment in America. A group of brave women went to war with a powerful man and won. The #MeToo movement began soon afterward and a conversation was started that created real change. Bombshell is the first studio film with Hollywood A-Listers to come out of it and it won’t be the last.
What’s Bombshell About:
With the 2016 election coming up and Donald Trump as an important Republican figure, Fox News is at the forefront of American news, being run by Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). Under him, the network fosters a toxic work atmosphere. When Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) is fired, she sues Ailes personally for sexual harassment – a bold move that enables others to confront the harassment that they have also faced at the workplace, from the top anchor Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) to lower-level executives like Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie).
The lead performances in Bombshell are remarkable. It’s always difficult to portray real-life personalities but the actors have done their part. They disappear into the roles and the focus is squarely on the characters and not the actors themselves. Charlize Theron completely transforms herself, mirroring Megyn’s voice and mannerisms. Nicole Kidman gives a strong performance as Gretchen Carlson. Margot Robbie‘s presence is dynamic as she delivers some of the most emotional moments in the film even though she doesn’t portray a real-life counterpart but rather a composite of women who went through similar experiences at Fox News. John Lithgow is unrecognizable under the makeup and prosthetics and he acutely portrays Ailes, a predator who fostered a system of abuse under him. The supporting cast also seems to accurately represent the people they play in their limited screen time.
Director Jay Roach and writer Charles Randolph don’t shy away from showing the uncomfortable parts. They present the events through a mixture of recreation and some narration that breaks the fourth wall. They also attempt to create a fairly objective view by placing emphasis on what the women had to endure while also trying to not paint them as completely blameless.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Depicting a controversial network and figures comes with its criticisms, including whether the portrayal was too sympathetic. While that’s up to the viewer to decide, the narrative is a bit messy. While it’s easy to follow the overview of what’s going on, the specifics (like dates) are harder to follow.
Why You Should Watch:
Bombshell, true to its name, makes a strong impact. The film has already won some awards and been nominated for two Golden Globes, with possibly some Oscar nominations along the way. It shows the explosive truth, which deserves a watch.