The Stream: Nothing new that you didn’t already know or suspect.
The Big Screen: Charlize Theron’s uncanny resemblance to Megyn Kelly is a remarkable feat.
The Final Bill: A star-studded TV movie on the big screen.
-Trip FontaineRuntime: 1 hour 48 minutes
Rating: R for language
Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow
Notable Trailers: Black Widow, The Woman in the Window, Birds of Prey, Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar, Antebellum
In the colloquial sense, people and things can be described as a bombshell. Catastrophic news can be a bombshell; or, an attractive woman may be characterized as a bombshell. Most likely, you have heard the term “blonde bombshell” – get it? Whatever. Okay, Jay Roach’s Bombshell plays with those connotations in alluding to the revelation of rampant sexual harassment at Fox News as well as the numerous, mostly blonde employees of the network. The titular bombshell was reported in 2016 when Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson exposes then CEO Roger Ailes and the toxic culture at the network, so the history is very recent. I would suspect anyone going to see Bombshell will mostly be curious about the star-studded cast because they would already know the basics of the story. There really isn’t much more to it.
Nicole Kidman plays a fierce and steadfast, Gretchen Carlson. She’s tired of the “boy’s club” antics of her co-anchors and the disregard she is shown by Roger Ailes, who is played by John Lithgow under layers of makeup. I think Kidman is made up to resemble Carlson, and it’s a good job because she looks like herself but not unrecognizable. Carlson is out on a limb when she goes against Ailes by exposing him and Fox News, but she needs allies.
The remainder of the film is basically grappling with whether any other women related to Fox News will tell their stories. The primary focus is on Megyn Kelly played by Charlize Theron and a composite character, Kayla Pospisil, played by Margot Robbie. Theron is unrecognizable. She looks so much like Megyn Kelly and sounds like her too that it is mindboggling. Her performance is really good although it doesn’t seem like there’s much at stake for Kelly. She seems pretty insulated from any potential fallout whether she supports Carlson or not. Robbie is very good as well. Because her character is fictionalized, she doesn’t come with the baggage of Megyn Kelly or Gretchen Carlson and gets to be the ambitious, young wide-eyed fool who wants to work at Fox News and naively trusts these people she idolizes. Robbie gets to be tender and devastating in her own right.
It is hard to be spoiler free on Bombshell because we lived these events so recently or you can just go to your trusty internet search engine and read the articles for yourself. I ask, does the film justify its existence? The cast does a good job. There are a lot of cameos throughout of the other Fox News personalities – Geraldo, Judge Jeanine, Greta, etc. The make-up is great – just look at Theron in one clip. The film as a whole feels like the other political retellings that have come out as of late, mostly on HBO, Recount, Game Change and last year’s theatrical release, Vice, but there’s really no deeper point of view about any of these characters or the situation. I do not know that this movie is necessary now – aside from depicting that women working in the conservative news field endured their #MeToo moments as well.
The only real reason to see Bombshell is to watch Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in these performances. They are all great, but the first teaser for Bombshell (the 3 women in the elevator and that suspenseful music) was the most impactful part of the film. If you really want to know what happened, read the articles from only 3 years ago. Save the viewing of the movie to when it premieres on HBO next year or whenever, if you must see it.