With an all-star cast featuring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and John Lithgow, ‘Bombshell’ is based on the demise of Roger Ailes by a group of fearless women.
Mostly, ‘Bombshell’ strikes a serious tone. After all, it is based on a real-life issue surrounding real people who faced real consequences. However, at times, we break the fourth wall for a wink at the camera or for a bit of sarcasm.
For me, this type of story just doesn’t lend itself well to that style of comedy. Instead, we don’t take the film too seriously and at times even become frustrated with these off the cuff moments.
The story is important and necessary, but it could really have worked better on a streaming app (i.e. Netflix). Though it’s on a smaller screen, it’s also more widely accessible. It also has the added benefits of tempered expectations – at least in terms of production.
Understandably, many of the victims of Roger Ailes, the man behind the success of Fox News, signed Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA), making the task of creating such a film difficult. In this regard, writer Charles Randolph and director Jay Roach succeed in rehashing some of the major details behind the downfall of this media giant at the hands of a group of powerful women.
However, in order to get us inside of Ailes’ office during one of his encounters with one of his victims, they created a fictional character in Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), a chipper right-leaning evangelical who sees the world through rose-colored glasses. The problem with this character is that it pigeonholes victims of sexual assault. It implies that in order for this to happen, you must be somewhat gullible.
On the contrary, the other two main protagonists in ‘Bombshell’, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) present are “realists”. Two women, far from gullible, who only saw one way to succeed: submission.
In many ways, these three women represent different versions of the same person – the idealist, the survivor, and the fighter – at different stages of their careers. The idealist will do anything to reach a goal; once success is apparent, the survivor will do what they can to stay on top; ultimately, however, you become fed up and decide to fight back.
This all feels too simple. Not all stories of sexual assault are the same nor do all the victims fit an identical profile. There is one message we can all get behind, however. It’s unacceptable.
Kudos to the makeup department for really transforming Theron into Megyn Kelly and Kevin Dorf into Bill O’Reilly. Other than that, real-life personas are cast rather poorly, turning this movie into a “hey, there’s that guy/gal.” More than anything else, these cameos are super distracting.
Go for the story, but leave all expectations regarding the filmmaking at the door.
‘Bombshell’ starts off like an SNL skit and ends like a cheap, wannabe version of a former SNL head writer Adam McKay (‘The Big Short’ and ‘Vice’) film.