Bombshell

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Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in a tense elevator scene in Bombshell. Photosource: Lionsgate

The latest preview of Bombshell, the film adaption of the 2016 Fox News #MeToo scandal, can be summed up into one seemingly mediocre phrase: three blonde women take the elevator. But much like the real-life case, there is much more going on under the surface. We start with Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) who is taking the elevator with the intern, Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) when Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) steps into the space. The women exchange tense nervous glances, Carlson comments on the heat and cuts herself off before she can say more and then steps off the elevator with Kayla in tow. Nothing else happens here and yet there is so much going on.
Within that closet-sized space, the silence is deafening. These women barely exchanged three words and yet they communicated with one another with a technique all women know by heart. For those who can’t read the tense body language here let me make it clear. Essentially Megyn and Gretchen were feeling each other out, with Megyn’s scowl particularly scrutinizing Gretchen in a sort of What do you know exactly? and What are you going to do about it? examination. In this context, Carlson’s “it’s hot in here” comment can be read as a deflection, she’s keeping her cards close to her chest. She knows Megyn knows about the sexual harassment and yet she’s keeping her mouth shut and pretending everything is normal, while Kayla’s eyes dart between the two legendary news anchors with desperate uncertainty as to what either of them will do and who she should be loyal to.
As far as previews, and movies in general though, it’s a pretty masterful shot that sums up how workplace sexual harassment is handled, namely with the pressure to self- silence and not cause trouble. However, as we know from the real-life case and the title of this upcoming movie, the situation will not just die in that eerily silent elevator. Instead, we can look forward to seeing that flock of emboldened blonde women boil over and strike down Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes from the perch of influence he, in my opinion, never deserved.
The movie is said to be tailored to the real-life experiences of Megyn and Gretchen, and how Roger Ailes targeted and sexually harassed them and over twenty other women. Reports are that he would try and sabotage their careers when his perverted demands went unfulfilled, including taking them off of hard-hitting news, moving them from primetime slots, and docking their pay. Another level of abuse will be featured in this film through the character of Kayla who, despite being completely fictional, will be portraying the very real experiences of countless women at the Fox Network who privately disclosed the details of their harassment to the director, Jay Roach, and writer, Charles Randolph, as they interviewed former Fox News staff women for this project. Many could not disclose their identities for their own safety or because the information they provided would violate their non-disclosure agreements, yet through Kayla, we will all finally get to see the truth of how this network treated its female employees.
This is what Bombshell has that will potentially take this movie from the often lackluster celebrity-studded true-life drama, into a cinematic expose of this contentious media empire, namely the claim that this movie will focus the narrative on the women, as illustrated by the lack of Roger’s name or person in the new trailer. What’s more, it seems that you do not have to compromise your criticisms of Fox News to appreciate Bombshell and trust me when I say I have plenty of that. As Roach explained in an earlier interview, the film is not about making Megyn Kelly or Gretchen Carlson into heroes or to even have people sympathize with them, which is pretty reasonable since they have each been the object of public contempt for their own offensive statements. Rather, this film is about telling the truth of their story. How they were treated, what they did once this abuse began, and how it all came to light. If the rest of Bombshell holds up to that ingenious trailer, it could trigger actual conversations about workplace harassment and the solutions to it in any and all industries.
That being said, the film is already getting Oscar buzz as each of these leading actresses are known for giving phenomenal performances. Although, I personally feel whatever awards are coming Bombshell’s way they need to go to that makeup artist that made Charlize Theron look like an actual Megyn Kelly doppelganger. Regardless, Bombshell will be released on December 20th of this year, prepare yourself for something explosive.

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