Bombshell is the most important film of 2020. Its harrowing retelling of real life events will stay with you long after you’ve left the movie theatre.
Jay Roach’s Bombshell tells the true story of the sexual harassment scandal that rocked Fox News. With documentary-style precision it gives an uneasy insight into the most powerful and controversial media empire in the world and the women who brought down the infamous man who created it.
If at this point you’re thinking this is a fluffy feminisit flick you’re sadly mistaken. Bombshell, focusses on the sexual harassment scandal that toppled Fox News kingpin Roger Ailes. It tells the stories of three women whose claims against Ailes ultimately led to him being sacked by network.
You may recognise one of those names more than others, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron). The news anchor famously went head to head with Trump before he became POTUS and called him out on his treatment of women. This was met with a tirade of 15 furious tweets overnight from Trump calling Kelly a Bimbo, a TV interview accusing her of angrily menstrating and over a year of abuse towards Kelly and her young family.
Ailes at the time relished the influx of additional press for Fox News and increases viewing figures. In fact, he actively encouraged the controversy.
Through the course of the film we learn more about fellow anchor Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and a fictional character named Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) and the abuse they endured at the hands of Ailes in disturbingly granular detail. We’re also shown the blind loyalty that Ailes demands of his employees, who even after everything he’s put them through rally around the media powerhouse.
Theron, Kidman and Robbie are superb in these all-important roles. Theron especially excels in her portrayal of Kelly. Bombshell is an uncomfortable watch. In fact 24 hours after attending its premiere I’m still contemplating its narrative and the disturbing scenes I witnessed.
I’m not ashamed to say that I was sexually harassed at both college and university, reporting it to the authorities each time. But it doesn’t stop there. Women endure a barrage of uninvited advances, abuse and objectification each and every day. I doubt you’d struggle to find a women that hasn’t been catcalled, had her ass grabbed in a club, been sexualised in some way, judged on her appearance before her credentials or been made to feel uncomfortable by unwanted sexually loaded behaviour. Online abuse from men is the reason I no longer film video movie reviews for Ruthless On Film.
Some scenes in Bombshell are incredibly graphic, in fact for some they may be triggering. This film is more relevant now than ever. In a time when a woman is at a disadvantage from when she is born, its message couldn’t ring more true. Believe women, support women and fight back against people abusing their power and taking advantage of those without a voice.
The film can be summarized with one line from Carlson: “I don’t care that you like me, only that you believe me.”
Bombshell is out in UK on 17th January. The Ruthless On Film team saw the movie as part of an exclusive screening by Odeon.
By Ruth Walker