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Bombshell

Year: 2019
Production Co: Creative Wealth Media
Studio: Lionsgate
Director: Jay Roach
Producer: Charles Randolph
Writer: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Jay Duplass, Liv Hewson, Allison Janney, Malcolm McDowell, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Stephen Root, Nazanin Boniadi, Ben Lawson, Josh Lawson, Richard Kind, Alice Eve, Tricia Helfer

I'll watch any movie Jay Roach makes about a true story and this tale about the sexual harassment accusations that bought down Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is no different.

Like the longer, more thoughful and (it has to be said, simply because it has more breathing room) series The Loudest Voice, it's an imagined yet no less fascinating look behind the curtain of very public events. In this case, the lawsuit by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) launched at her overweight, slobbering, right wing demagogue CEO Ailes (John Lithgow) and the ensuing fallout.

As history has since proven, there were countless incidents committed against countless female staffers at the network at Ailes' hands, and in the movie they're portrayed by an invented character, bright eyed ingenue Kayla (Margot Robbie), who endures Ailes' leery inspection in one of the film's most uncomfortable scenes.

But the story really belongs to Megyn Kelly (Charlie Theron, and I can't work out why they made her up to look more like Kelly but left Kidman mostly intact), who suffered her own harrasment by Roger years before and has to weigh up joining Carlson in damming her boss or saving a career that's riding high.

That goes doubly so after the scandal that erupted over her interview with Trump at a convention that gave many people one of the first glimpses of what kind of man he was.

There are no real spoilers because we all know what happened, so the pleasure is in seeing good actors deliver a good script and feeling like you're watching a bit of history unfold.

The filmmaking itself isn't perfect. It doesn't call for a lot of auteruial input, so it was weird to see a few weird mid-scene zooms for no reason as well as some kind of errant editing cuts.

But I was most watchful for anything that elicited the ho-hum response at the box office and the way some critics absolutely hated it. The only thing I can come up with is that we all come down on one side of the spectrum.

If you're a liberal and a feminist you hate Fox News anyway and would be disappointed that it didn't put the boot into Ailes and Rupert Murdoch (Malcolm McDowell) even heavier. If you're a conservative you probably think Carlson, Kelly and their peers were embittered shrews trying to extract revenge.

Even the characters themselves were a contradiction. Conservative in professional outlook if not practice, they stood for everything feminism and the #MeToo generation hated, until they became public victims of toxic masculinity.

Roach (and the script by Charles Randolph) might not overtly want you to hate blonde, primped Fox news anchors for spouting right wing rhetoric as much as you love them for taking down a powerful abuser, but many viewers of this movie will, and the disconnect between the two will undoubtedly put them off.

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