Review | Kate McKinnon shines among big stars in ‘Bombshell’

Bombshell | Dir: Jay Roach | M | ★ ★ ★  ½ 

The word is already out about Bombshell as it is based on the actual story of the mega-powerful head of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Roger Ailes and the women who brought him to justice for years of sexual harassment. Incredibly this was only 4 years ago in 2016 when Donald Trump was making his run for the White House.

It all started with Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) whose age meant that she was demoted to anchor a program that is removed from prime time. Becoming more outspoken, she could see that her use-by date was nearly up. She did her homework and as she watched other young blonde women ascended the same career path that she took, she knew exactly how to bring Ailes (John Lithgow) to account.

Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) is brilliantly playing the game of success, describing herself as a non-feminist. When Trump, who hasn’t yet been endorsed as the Republican candidate, attacks her in the most misogynistic of ways, she can see that Ailes would rather support the person who would be president.

Then there’s Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) who is a composite character of several Fox employees and is younger and blonder and determined to do what it takes to work her way up the ranks. It is difficult to summon up much sympathy for characters that appear to be anything but victims and have no sense of comradery in the hugely competitive environment.

It’s a great story, but unfortunately I did not find it a great film. It is frustratingly disempowering to watch the depravity played out on the big screen, well not actually played out on the screen but the hints are large enough. The sexual harassment is acknowledged and two of the perpetrators (Ailes and Bill O’Reilly) lose their jobs but the payout shown at the end of the film is a bit of a slap in the faces of the women.

The acting from all the main characters is superb and the many nominations for awards back that up, but something was missing to bind all the performances together. The only bright light is Kate McKinnon as the lesbian journalist Jess Carr who tries to warn Kayla about the predators that trade sexual favours for career advancement.

Jess warns “You have to adopt the mentality of an Irish street cop. The world is a bad place, people are lazy morons, minorities are criminals, sex is sick but interesting. Ask yourself, ‘What would scare my grandmother or piss off my grandfather?’ And that’s a Fox story.”

Lezly Herbert

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