I have a firm belief. While reviewing documentaries and (authentic) films based on real-life events, our critique unknowingly becomes our outlook of the subject. I’ve learnt this from multiple cases. I’m unsure it is fair, though, it is quite easy to get carried away and impose personal opinions on the real-life matters. This singular reason makes it quite challenging to be objective towards such films and view them solely as films separating them from the subjects they are based on. And, Bombshell is one such experience, despite me not being the demography it is supposed to represent or cater to. Very recently, I saw a tweet telling critics not to review films that are not meant for them. The film in the discussion was ‘Little Women’, which as clearly indicated by the title, is about women. So, it is obvious that women will empathise more with ‘Little Women’ than men will, I can ensure you that. I find myself in one such odd place where I’m unsure whether it is fair to review Bombshell because of the very same reason which I wasted an entire paragraph on. But, let me try to view it as a film which didn’t work for me for cinematic reasons. I’ll tell the issues which I had with the film.
My problems with the film begin even before getting into the film. I chose not to see the trailer, because, you know how much they give away. I knew it was written by academy-award winning writer Charles Randolph, had a star cast boasting of talent at its desposition, and best of all, it is based on a true story, or shall we call it, real scandal? And this is what the synopsis of the film says- BOMBSHELL is a revealing look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time; Fox News, and the explosive story of the women who brought down the infamous man who created it.
Have a look at the video, it kind of serves as a base for what’s going to come up.
If you haven’t seen the video, let me sum it up. Megyn Kelly, in the March of 2016, questioned Donald Trump, the then-president candidate about the comments he made on women. Long story short, it didn’t end quite well. And Megyn being the less powerful one had to deal with what comes along. And the film takes most of its first-half dramatising these course of events with Megyn at the centre. Do you see the disconnect between the synopsis the film? Yes. What happens before the film begins and after the end of the credits, should not be taken into consideration and should not influence the perspective. But correct me if I’m wrong- aren’t trailers designed to make up our mind of what is going to come our way? Hell yes! And that is where the film faltered for me. Throughout the first act and for most of the second act, I was waiting for the actual story to begin. I was waiting for it to dwell into the scandal zone.
Most of the time is spent on formulating Fox News as a sinister corporation, scene after scene. When it is not doing that, the focus is on Megyn. I get it. Megyn is the most popular one. But the real hero of the story is Gretchen Carlson, also a Fox anchor, who was the first one to call out the boss Roger Ailes, of sexual harassment. Gretchen is vulnerable and humanistic, whereas Megyn is quite the flawless and confident woman. Don’t doubt it; both of them are incredibly strong. But that doesn’t quite reflect in the way Gretchen is written. She is made to look quite the opposite of what I just said. Gretchen has a brilliant dialogue when a passerby harshly says “I can’t stand your show.”, she responds with “the way to treat those who you disagree with, tells everything about you”. That’s how strong-headed she is, and the film never treats her as the ‘hero’. Why? Is it because she is not as popular as Megyn? I guess so. And that, I felt is incredibly saddening, primarily when the film is marketed with a #MeToo brand on it.
What the film gets right is Kayla Pospisil, one of the leading women, she is innocent, ambitious and flawed, like a real woman. Even though she doesn’t change the course of events, the events change her, and I bought it despite the fact that it is quite cinematic.
More than that, Bombshell lacks depth. The internet already has everything. I’m sorry. Coming from the man who wrote The Big Short, this film is quite ineffective in making you care for the characters. There is no punch in the gut even when the film gets to the final act, it all gets light.
I’ll still be glad if you like it.
A video that might give an understanding of the whole story-
Trailer of the film-