‘Bombshell’ // Film Review: Three Big Actress Shine in Mildly Entertaining Docudrama

If you don’t enjoy talking about politics, scandals that revolves around Fox News based on your personal agenda, Bombshell might not be the one to see since there are some things that you might agree with that occurred in this true story that was talked about highly a few years ago, and it could be one of the more relevant movies to come out during a time that’s difficult to come through. 

What’s the Story: In the world of Fox News, journalist Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), who’s still going on with her feud with then-Republican nominee Donald Trump and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) are just a few women that take on the difficult challenge in exposing chairman and CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) for sexual harassment charges that occurred in 2016. 

Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, and Margot Robbie in Bombshell (2019)

An interesting story to tackle that will get people talking, Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, HBO’s Game Change) and screenwriter Charles Randolph, who won an Oscar for co-writing The Big Short, needed to make this important to those who might have suffered in the same conditions what happened before. So, this is another story revolving around a scandal that was all in the news that came as a huge shock in the media industry. What’s weird is that Showtime already did a miniseries based on the same subject in The Loudest Voice with Russell Crowe, which I heard some mixed things about and never cared to watch it. Is Bombshell one of the best movies of the year? I wouldn’t say so, but I liked it for what it was, even though I wished it to be a lot better.

It’s supposed to be an inspiring and important drama when we see that the women at Fox News are working in an environment that doesn’t feel, and it’s able to hold your attention when things get going. Carlson was the first to think this through after Ailes fired her from Fox and Friends. Even back just a few years ago, I didn’t pay attention to what the madness was going on around that period. The message it’s trying to send serves a purpose, if it worked better with this script.

If these strong lead performances weren’t giving it all they got, there would be no point in even watching this fully. Theron’s transformation as Megyn Kelly through her voice and wardrobe she wears never felt like she was doing a huge impression, but she was a phenomenal job at portraying someone most people in the world probably don’t like but can understand the side of where she’s coming from in her career. Though being able to sympathize with her was unexpected on my account. I thought Kidman as Gretchen Carlson is another actress that took control of this real-life journalist. And Margot Robbie’s Kayla Pospisil is a fictional character that’s a composite of different women who were involved with Ailes, and you feel the most empathy from her when it goes into the third act. She’s also incredible as the associate producer trying her best to step up to the big leagues The three of them share little scenes, except for the elevator scene that was in the teaser.

The rest of the supporting hit it out of the park, with some actors I didn’t know were in it during the opening credits. Lithgow as Roger Ailes should be talked about more for his performance since this was a role I didn’t see coming. Just like with Theron, I forgot he was Lithgow throughout because he disappears and just becomes Ailes in every scene he’s in when he’s just in a fat suit. At one end, you can see how supportive he is about his employees and wants them to be on the right track, but you also witness that he might take things a bit too far. This also has Kate McKinnon as someone who befriends Kayla in the workplace, Mark Duplass as Megyn’s husband, Connie Britton as Roger’s wife, and Malcolm McDowell appearing brief as Rupert Murdoch.

When you think about it, this was pretty much the start of the #MeToo Movement before Harvey Weinstein and every man who’s about to be accused gets taken down. Roach’s style felt Adam McKay-like with certain camera movements or breaking things down through narration to make us understand. Also, this was a bit easier to follow unlike The Big Short for someone that has no idea about the financial crisis. From the way these certain events were depiction, whether most of them were true, these women did the right thing in coming forward in detailing what Ailes did. There’s a scene between him and Kayla, and you can just feel the uncomfortable factor and feel guilty about it when you feel you should stop what’s happening. 

While the screenplay was good, there should’ve been more of emotional weight when this was happening at the channel, or I expected Bombshell to explore much deeper into these investigations. The reason that could be for that is that most of the people involved didn’t want to be associated with the movie. Tone-wise, they didn’t need to have the characters breaking the fourth wall in the same way The Big Short did it well enough. Also, with this being based on true events, some aspects of the story were probably exaggerated with the depictions.

Kate McKinnon and Margot Robbie in Bombshell (2019)

With this being discussed in the Oscar race, the film probably won’t get nominated for Best Picture, more of a dark horse at this point. But there’s a definite chance Theron and Robbie will get a nomination for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. The guarantee nomination and front-runner to win is for Best Makeup and Hairstyling by Kazu Hiro because the prosthetics are that good.

Fearing that this would end up becoming the next Vice, where the performances were more memorable than the movie itself, Bombshell wasn’t too bad. Though I wasn’t expecting to be anything fantastic and some moments of its script might not be true or taken out of context, it’s an understanding drama that takes its social message that Roach takes in stride. Not something I’ll take the chance to re-watch it again, but see it just to get a glimpse at the amazing performances. Grade: B

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