When the official trailer for Bombshell dropped, people were buzzing about Charlize Theron’s striking transformation into Megyn Kelly; and placing bets on how Hollywood would depict the true story of the sexual assault scandals that disgraced Fox News chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes.
Even before hitting theatres, the film snagged two Golden Globe and four SAG Awards nominations. To many, the high praise isn’t the least bit surprising given the A-list cast that includes, Nicole Kidman (Gretchen Carlson), Margot Robbie (Kayla Pospisil) and John Lithgow (Roger Ailes).
Three characters drive the story in Bombshell: Carlson, Kelly and fictional producer, Pospisil. In the film, Carlson files a lawsuit against Ailes citing sexual harassment after being ousted from the network. Like many women who find themselves on the receiving end of sexual assault and workplace harassment, Kelly and Pospisil sit on the fence, questioning how their admissions will impact their lives and careers. Both later deciding to give credibility to Carlson’s allegations by sharing their dehumanizing interactions with the media mogul.
From the beginning, Ailes is framed as a tyrannical predator—a man who would invite female employees into his office and coerce them into exposing themselves or performing sexual acts to advance. He had a perverted fixation with their bodies and policed their clothing choices, often stating that “television is a visual medium.”
When it comes to performances, Theron is unrecognizable as Kelly. With the help of prosthetics, makeup, wardrobe and altering her voice, she became the ever so polarizing journalist. Her portrayal was so pristine, that it was easy to forget the Oscar-winner was hiding underneath those garbs.
For a big-screen adaptation of a real-life controversy, Bombshell works. Directed by Jay Roach and written by John Randolph, the film spins the scandal and the broadcaster’s toxic practices into a women’s empowerment narrative. Though, it would have been nice to touch on how the conservative-leaning news station isn’t just internally problematic, as many of its programs and personalities spew harmful rhetoric to the public.
Although it’s set a short time before #MeToo, Bombshell also gives visibility to the widespread and non-partisan issue of sexual assault and harassment. It’s an uncomfortable look at the scandal that rocked the headlines in 2016, but if you can stomach it, it’s definitely worth the watch.