$50 million in damages to all the women who came out against Roger Ailes accusing him of sexual harassment and $65 million to the man himself and Bill O’Reilly in settlement with Fox News.
This is the sombre note at which Bombshell ends right before the final credits roll in. Helmed by Jay Roach and backed by solid performances by Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and Margot Robbie as Kayla, the narrative traces the journey of how the grossly objectified women of network television take down the man who was responsible for helping Fox earn their “billion dollar profits.”
Opening the floodgates for the chilling MeToo movement that shook the core of Hollywood and trickled down into other industries, Jay’s narrative moves at a brisk pace and refuses to make the viewers uncomfortable and rather tickles one’s funny bones every now and then. What could’ve been a rather grim narrative translates into an engaging one albeit with a myopic vision that is unable to delve into the psyche of the women in-charge who are also victims. Written and directed by men, their patriarchal lens glaringly victim blames Megyn Kelly as she goes upto Kayla, the aspiring young journalist asking her to come out with her story of harassment during the internal investigation against Roger. The scene could have established both Kayla and Megyn as complex characters but ends up in a rather catty and hostile showdown.
The one moment that truly captures the anxiety shared by the three women as victims is the one in the lift. The three blonde women standing next to each other is a rather powerful visual. Their shared silence in that very moment also symbolises their shared pain at the hands of the perpetrator Roger. The scene draws to a close as Gretchen heads out, a step closer to being terminated, Kayla on the other hand heads out to prove her “loyalty” to Fox which is actually Roger’s euphemism asking for sexual favours and Megyn just looks on at the two women as she’s losing control of her life and autonomy.
The stifling Republican backdrop along with the narrative’s need to go out of its way to posit the capitalist Murdoch’s as the pseudo-hero figures further goes on to say it's a man’s world after all. The script clearly misses out on the opportunity to chronicle and reveal some incidents of systemic sexism and the blatantly problematic conservatism that goes on in the newsrooms. It seems to forget that sexual harassment isnt a Roger Ailes issue but rather a Fox issue as well. What one also feels as the movie draws to a close is a deep sense of satisfaction as Roger is ripped apart bit by bit because of Gretchen’s ingenious ploy. It can’t be denied that the ripples of the domino effect these women set off can still be felt world over.Text Unnati Saini