Bombshell Review – a story of sexual harassment that muddles its way

Unequal power dynamics, Sexual harassment, Footage of sexual harassment survivors talking, Frequent use of the profanity “fuck”.

Now I am always up for a film with strong women asserting themselves. I have to say I know little about American news, though I have heard of Fox News. So I was not aware of this scandal at all when I watched Bombshell, so I do not know if the story is entirely accurate or not. But this review is not to debate accuracy but how the film stood up in terms of entertainment.

For those unaware, Bombshell follows a group of women who take on the Fox News Head, Roger Ailes, when they accuse him of sexual harassment.

What is weird to me, is that the first woman who actually makes a single stand against him at the beginning is barely featured at all. Played by Nicole Kidman, she is more of a side character in Bombshell. The main focus is on another woman who still works at Fox as an anchor and shows her struggles deciding whether to back up the lawsuit.

Before all that, there is a segment in which Trump is mentioned a lot. Which I believe is used to show why Charlize Theron’s character is hesitant to speak up, but I feel like it detracts from the main story and message of Bombshell. It does set the scene for the eventual sexual harassment, but I think that it would have been better to use something else that wasn’t so unrelated and political. This is meant to be a story about how women spoke up and took down a powerful figure at Fox News and it should have focused on that.

The most powerful scene is with Margot Robbie as Kayla. From my brief research, she is not an actual person but a composite of the experiences of women involved in the sexual harassment lawsuit featuring in Bombshell. The scene was more powerful than anything I can spoil here, so I will tell it. She walks into Roger Ailes office to discuss her career. He asks her to do a twirl, but then he pushes further and further asking her to raise her dress until her knickers are showing. Margot Robbie does a great job of showing her uncomfortableness and her fear that people will find out what happened. Frankly, Bombshell is worth watching just for this scene. Though it has been criticized by victims of Robert Ailes, that it does not depict how bad it really was.

I wish this scene could be played in all sexual harassment videos, as it was very convincing and shows it doesn’t even have to involve physical contact to be harassment. However, both Margot Robbie’s and Nicole Kidman’s characters do not get enough screen time in my opinion. I think it would have been more powerful to focus on these women, especially after that scene in the office. And I believe it would have been interesting to see the legal side of things a bit more.

In fact, it’s hard to grasp any feelings from Charlize Theron. She seems more concerned if other women have come forward, and we don’t get much about her struggle apart from that. I would have liked more interaction between the main stars too. Apart from the ride up in the elevator, they do not talk to each other. But that may have been how it happened in real life.

The ending of Bombshell was a little disappointing I have to say. The ending statement was powerful though in making their point that victims are undermined by big hush money paid to the abusers. The narration was fairly good and made some interesting points, but I felt like they could have made it more climatic. It didn’t feel like the story was ending and yet it did. What happened to the women and their careers after the fact? But maybe that was the point there is no real resolution for victims of sexual harassment. The most they can hope for in this society is that the abuser loses their job.

Bombshell was an interesting film, but I feel there are a lot of better films out there concerning this subject. The film feels a bit meandering and messy with what it is trying to do.

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