Coming to theatres from director Jay Roach and Lionsgate comes an explosive story about women and a power they fought against when preparing for the BOMBSHELL.
On the Fox News channel, women like Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and Megan Kelly (Charlize Theron) are making a name for themselves. Seeing it for herself is incoming wanna-be Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) who is one of the producers for Carlson’s show and wants more. So much so that Kayla takes a position with Bill O’Reilly which infuriates Carlson.
Luring above all the newsrooms is Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) who made Fox News a sensation and runs a tight ship with the okay from Rupert Murdoch (Malcolm McDowell). No one dare challenge Ailes as he made is very clear that he could make or break a career. That is what Carlson faced when she begins to suspect that her news days on air are numbered. Seeing legal counsel before that happens, she is told that going directly for Ailes instead of the company would be her best option.
At Kayla’s new position she meets producer Jess Carr (Kate McKinnon) and the two quickly become friends. One day Kayla takes it upon herself to make her way up to Ailes office to introduce herself. Accepting the meeting, Ailes begins calming talking to her about what it is she wants. Once the politeness is done, Ailes claims he needs to get a closer look at Kayla since television is a “visual medium”. She leaves his office knowing what transpired was frightening.
Once out and the Carlson sexual harassment lawsuit filed, Kelly must come to terms with what she knows, but she isn’t the only one. One woman after another comes forward while Kelly remains silent. Telling her husband what is happening doesn’t help her decision on what to do next easier. Kayla also keeps her head down and avoids Ailes office as much as she can but Carr notices something is wrong.
Trying to coax people to help, Ailes wife Beth (Connie Britton) wonders why Kelly isn’t coming out in support of the man who gave her a career. Ailes vehemently denies the accusations against him and cannot fathom why the women would say such things. The bigger the story gets, people begin to take sides and finally Murdoch knows that a decision must be made to safe what is left of Fox News.
Standing together the women realize there is safety in numbers.
Theron as Kelly is ridiculously scary because after a minute of watching her on screen I forgot that I was watching Theron. Her movements and speech are spectacular to the point of being brought into the story with ease. Theron has always been a consummate actress in my book and I have never really found fault in anything she has done but let me say in this film just absolutely blew me away. From start to finish I was riveted by her performance and, although not a huge fan of Kelly herself, do have a healthy dose of respect for her. She can thank Theron for that anytime.
Kidman as Carlson is a woman who sees the writing on the wall knowing it comes directly from Ailes and his eyes ever watching his news kingdom. The smartest thing for me was her knowing it was coming and did whatever she could to make sure things were ‘documented’. I mean really, did Ailes truly believe he was untouchable? I don’t comprehend that thinking except to chalk it up to an old school mentality where it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Kidman gives Carlson stealth and determination in a world that Ailes seem to feel was a gift he gave her with a stipulation of silence.
Robbie as Kayla is a young woman on the move and doesn’t think too much before changing lanes. It seemed that all this character wanted to do was get to the top fast and try not to leave to many high heel marks on the backs of others. Idolizing Carlson and even Kelly, the character of Kayla doesn’t seem to have the maturity to handle what is about to happen to her.
McKinnon as Carr is a woman who is hiding who she is because she wants to keep her job. Knowing the environment around her isn’t kind to everyone, McKinnon brings her own hurting brevity to this character and it makes a hard point. Britton as Beth holds fast to her husband innocence even though I have a gut feeling she knows he’s not so innocent trusting in the ‘that’s just who he is’ line of defense.
Now let’s talk about Lithgow as Ailes because his performance is just so disturbing. Thinking that he should get an award for his portrayal it set my mind ablaze thinking ‘how do you give an award to someone for doing a stellar job without once again giving Ailes airtime’. I know, it’s making a mountain out of a mole hill but – is it? Anyway, Lithgow is riveting, yucky and portraying a man who used his powers in the most unspeakable of ways. This performance is just…wow!
Shout out to Allison Janney as Susan Estrich because she deserves a shout out. McDowell as Murdoch waltz’s into a room and shows Ailes how it’s done.
Other cast include Liv Hewson as Lily Balin, Brigette Lundy-Paine as Julia Clarke, Rob Delaney as Gil Norman, Stephen Root as Neil Mullen, Robin Weigert as Nancy Smith, Amy Landecker as Dianne Brandi and Mark Duplass as Doug Brunt.
BOMBSHELL is a film that gives a look inside the fall from Fox News grace of Roger Ailes definitely but more importantly, what it took for Carlson to take a stand. The film isn’t shy about putting it right out there that Ailes had power of such magnitude that he managed to shut down these women for years and years while up in his tower.
I was impressed with Kidman, Theron and Robbie as the film addresses their story’s individually and I think that’s important. Ailes abuses started early and as he got bolder, so did his ‘requests’ of these women and he talk about them later. As what usually happens when a powerful man is confronted with his misdeeds (by almost everyone’s standards), Ailes thinks he is above it all. That he barks and everyone cowers – well, Carlson decided to cower no more in 2016.
BOMBSHELL is definitely a film that needs to be seen and then discussed. Whether it all happened the way its portrayed on screen or not, it is a conversation that can stop even a hint of something like this from ever happening again. I don’t care if these women were on Fox News and I’m not a fan of Fox News – no one and I mean no one deserves to live their lives with fear – in family or at a job.
In the end – based on a scandal that shook a new empire!