BOMBSHELL, the story about how women working at Fox News suffered under and eventually fought back against sexual harassment from the network’s brain-bug, Roger Ailes, does something that Fox’s offal-feeding raptors have always crowed about yet are too chickenhawk to provide: a reasonably “fair & balanced” portrait.
In 2016, a number of women working for Fox News chafe under various degrees of sexual harassment from the men they work with and for, particularly loathsome harem keeper Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). They include high-profile personalities like Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and unseen underlings like ‘Kayla Pospisil’ (Margot Robbie), hopeful about getting ahead—and we know the joke about what’s required. Against the odds of the ruthless, hypocritical power structure, some of the victims begin to fight back.
With a needle-sharp script by Charles Randolph (The Big Short) etching relatable humanity as well as stinging black humor into the dismayingly ample source material, director Jay Roach clips the 2019 docudrama on a satisfying 109 minutes, vividly realized by a can’t-miss cast. Even when they appear in mediocre projects (which this isn’t),Theron, Kidman and Robbie are never less than excellent, always compelling, often remarkable. All three in the same movie, with ace material, is a dream date. They all bat home runs, with Theron smacking a grand slam: her submersion into Kelly (greatly assisted by a terrific makeup job) is a work of art. Not to downgrade Kidman or Robbie one bit. They have the good fortune to match craft with Lithgow (also a wonderful makeup creation), who has one of the juiciest (and ickiest) roles of his career as the human version of Jabba the Hutt.
Theron pulled an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, Robbie for Supporting Actress, and it won for Best Makeup & Hairstyling. The supporting cast is stocked with icepick-wounding (and very funny) cameos of the creeps and witches parading as “journalists” on Fox. The striking end credits sequence is framed by the superb “One Little Soldier” performed by Regina Spektor. Produced for $32,000,000, it nicked 79th place in ’19, grossing $61,400,000.
With Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Rob Delaney, Mark Duplass, Malcolm McDowell (as Supreme Emperor Murdoch), Mark Moses, Allison Janney (a riot as Susan Estrich), Nazanin Boniadi, Bree Condon, Kevin Dorff (as ‘Loofa’ O’Reilly), Richard Kind (that Giuliani vampire), Stephen Root, Tony Plana (the ever-‘sincere’ Geraldo Rivera), Elisabeth Röhm, Alison Camerota, Alice Eve, Alanna Ubach.