Biography Bombshell

Review: ‘Bombshell’ is a Problematic Account of a Real-Life Scandal

December 19, 2019Britany Murphy

With a cast of heavy hitters that includes Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, it's no surprise that Bombshell — which centers on the Roger Ailes / Bill O'Reilly Fox News sexual harassment scandal — is one of the most anticipated films of the year.

Directed by Jay Roach, the film begins with Megyn Kelly (Theron) giving the audience a tour of the Fox News studio, before Gretchen Carlson (Kidman) sues Ailes (John Lithgow) for sexual harassment. In this early portion of the movie, Bombshell comes closer in tone to The Office, rather than a film about harassment in the workplace. However, as the story progresses and the audience is introduced to a new group of characters — including Kayla Pospisil (Robbie), who is an amalgamation of those Fox News female employees who were interviewed about the scandal — it becomes clear that this is not a safe environment for the women who work there.

Theron, Robbie and Kidman all nail their roles. Theron's amazing makeup work, paired with the way she is able to change her voice and mannerisms, allows her to completely embody Kelly. As for Robbie, she doesn't play one specific person, but the empathy for her character is palpable. Performances aside, however, the movie misses the opportunity to delve more into the fact that many people aided Ailes in his disturbing behavior. There were others — men and women alike — who knew what was going on, and yet many refused to take a stand. There is even one scene in which one of the female anchors actually asks others to wear t-shirts that show their support of Ailes.

It would have been worthwhile to also explore the complacency which allowed this problem to continue to fester. Also, while the film does highlight some of the other controversies that surrounded Fox News at the time, there isn't nearly enough screen time spent on upon these in conjunction with the scandal. Suffice to say, a greater light deserves to have been shone upon the fact that Kelly and Carlson were some of the most problematic anchors on Fox News, with segments that were both prejudiced and toxic.

While it is completely possible to feel apathy towards a person, it is also possible to dislike their unintelligible rants and racism — an angle that the movie sorely lacks. Still, Bombshell is worth seeing based on its strong performances, even if the way the film is framed is somewhat disappointing.

Bombshell releases December 20th, 2019 from Mongrel Media. The film has an MPAA rating of R for sexual material and language throughout. Its runtime is 1 hr. 48 min.

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