[Review] ‘BOMBSHELL’ digs into climate that dethroned

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

BOMBSHELL

Rated R, 108 minutes.
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Rob Delaney, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Liv Hewson, Mark Duplass, Stephen Root, Robin Weigert and Malcolm McDowell

Bombshell pulls off a delicate balance between being a devastating drama and an uproarious comedy. That should come as no surprise as it was written by Charles Randolph, who wrote The Big Short.

Randolph’s latest, directed by Jay Roach (TrumboAustin Powers), carries over the same high-energy spirit of his work with Adam McKay and delves into the many issues women face in a toxic workplace. Some may argue that it’s exploitative (the film didn’t get much insight from former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly). Still, regardless of its debatably limited perspective, the main concerns are voiced, and the film goes about it gracefully.

The film tells the story of the women (played by Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman, among others) who banded together to take down Fox News head Roger Ailes (a creepily good John Lithgow) and the shameful atmosphere he governed over at the network.

Bombshell doesn’t hold back in painting a vivid portrait of what goes on behind closed doors. There’s a scene so vile that you won’t be able to shake it from your memory. It involves Robbie’s ambitious and driven journalist character being stripped of her agency by Ailes. It’s disgusting, but the way Roach approaches it doesn’t make it feel like it’s being filtered through the male gaze. It gives the scene some distance, making you feel as uncomfortable as Robbie’s character.

There are many other specific notes that land with impact, such as Robbie’s character attempting to share this event with a co-worker, to which the co-worker asks to detach herself from out of fear of professional consequences. As Kidman’s character says, you have to make unsavory sacrifices to get ahead in this line of work. Each character’s realization of this is what gets underneath your skin. It’s the mission to expose the truth that keeps you engaged.

Witness some of the year’s best performances, sharpest writing and tasteful direction. Even the film’s musical score, which uses women’s voices, is innovative and intriguing. Let it amaze you.

Grade: A-

BOMBSHELL opens nationwide on Friday.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.