Bombshell’s teaser was the most intriguing teaser I had ever seen in years – just three big stars playing journalists crammed in an elevator, with palpable tension in that little space. “It’s hot in here,” says Nicole Kidman. You can feel that heat. The teaser gives away nothing.
The movie is about the fall of media mogul Roger Ailes (who headed Fox News) and the women who were instrumental in bringing that about. Honestly, I didn’t know much about it, so for me, it was all very new.
The film starts off on a light note, with Charlize Theron, who plays star anchor Megyn Kelly, breaking the fourth wall and inviting the viewer into her newsroom. She tells us about who Roger Ailes is and how Fox News functions.
Soon, the makers dive into the plot at hand – how sexism and sexual harassment is a systematic problem in not just the industry, but the country. “To get ahead, you have to give head,” women are told.
Kidman plays an aging anchor, who has had enough of the sexism, of being put down and finally decides to bring down the head of her channel. But the game begins only after she is fired, a move she was anticipating.
The film is riveting and makes you uncomfortable, especially as a woman viewer. Margot Robbie plays a young go-getter who wants to be on air, but is too naive to imagine the price she has to pay for her dream. She symbolizes all the young women who were exploited by men in power in the industry. Doe-eyed, dolled up, Robbie really nails her role, she is the lamb that gives in to the wolf.
I remember holding my friend’s hand for a brief second, to overcome the discomfort I felt when Robbie is sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, who, in his own words, resembles “Jabba the Hutt”. For those who don’t get the reference, Jabba is a character in Star Wars, an obese alien slug that is disgusting to look at.
None of the three heroines – Kidman, Theron, Robbie – are saints. But they decide to fight the system, the institutionalized sexual harassment of women, even if it’s too late. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” Theron’s character says, when she decides to get more women to speak up and expose her boss. It was slightly disappointing to see Kidman not get enough screen time, even though she is the one who spearheads the campaign against Ailes and sues him, putting all at stake.
The film was pacy and keeps one engaged throughout. The makers used real archival footage of Donald Trump to add to the authenticity of the film. The make-up artists have done a fantastic job in transforming all the actors to look like their part.
John Lithgow as Roger Ailes evokes the kind of emotions from the viewer that is expected out of him – of loathing and disgust. He is characteristic of all the rich, old, powerful men, who feel they are entitled to getting sex out of women who work for them.
Bombshell may not be as explosive as its title, but it sure brings in the fireworks that are worth watching. The film’s plot may be limited to one news channel, but it’s a universal tale of how sexual harassment is normalized and how women too are part of the problem.