DIRECTED BY: Jay Roach
STARRING: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Rob Delaney, Mark Duplass, Liv Hewson, Allison Janney, Brigette Lundy-Paine and Malcolm McDowell
Bombshell is a revealing look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time and the explosive story of the women who brought down the infamous man who created it.
Bombshell, directed by Jay Roach, is based on the true story of the sexual harassment scandal that brought the reign of the former chairman and chief executive Fox News Roger Ailes to an end.
The films biggest strength comes in the form of its ensemble. Charlize Theron carries the majority of the film as it focuses on Megyn Kelly’s journey, from how she co-moderates the 2016 Republican Debate and the fallout from that, to how pivotal she became in the sexual harassment claims against Roger Ailes. Charlize Theron gives a solid, commanding performance as Megyn Kelly, while Margot Robbie is also really good in the role of Kayla Pospisil, who is apparently a combination of people’s real-life experiences rolled into one character. In terms of the supporting cast, I thought John Lithgow was good as Roger Ailes, Mark Duplass was good in the limited screentime he had playing the role of Megyn Kelly’s husband Douglas Brunt, and the trio of her team (Rob Delaney, Liv Hewson and Brigette Lundy-Paine) I thought were good as well. Some the makeup was good, particularly when it comes to how they attempted to make Theron look like Kelly. With the script written by Charles Randolph, writer of The Big Short, some of the dialogue has the same bite, particularly in the films opening scenes in which Theron’s Megyn Kelly is breaking the fourth wall and explaining the in-and-outs of working at Fox News.
While the film has some solid performances, the film unfortunately doesn’t meet their level. The direction is obviously influenced by Adam McKay, and the initial ten minutes we have characters talking to the audience and that method of storytelling disappears for a long portion of the film that when it does be used again, it’s pretty jarring. What I also found pretty jarring at times, for once, was the films use of lighting/hairstyling, some scenes were either way too bright and some of the wigs/stylistic choices didn’t work for me. The films worst sin, however, is that the film tells the story on a surface level. We move from scene to scene, not really going through the motions to have any connection or feeling about it, there’s just no punch/conviction to it. It doesn’t help that the story itself is explored further (yet stylised just as much) in the Showtime limited series The Loudest Voice starring Russell Crowe. Also I wasn’t particularly impressed with Nicole Kidman’s performance as Gretchen Carlson, I don’t know why but it didn’t particularly work for me, whether it was the way her character arc was told or her dialogue.
Bombshell should work as it’s an important story to adapt the sexual harassment scandal that saw the end of Roger Ailes reign at Fox News but the material is handled at such a surface level, its impact is ineffective and the film overall is a wasted opportunity. The performances however are better than the script, particularly in its lead performances from Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, with a solid supporting cast.