You’re playing a dangerous game with your film’s story when you’re writing about real life events but there’s nothing to base it on, like a biography or a memoir. Bombshell is trying to thread that needle as best as it can, telling about the sexual harassment that happened at Fox News and by its CEO. In retrospect it did apparently get many of the details quite right and there’s plenty of solid acting to back it in this one, although there is a lot of inconsistency in how it’s presented.
Margot Robbie is on absolute fire as Kayla Pospisil, the new girl in the building who is supposed to be a combination of multiple real life women. Her scenes are a rollercoaster ride from first to last, shifting from the peppy and confident newcomer to humiliated and broken victim of a power maniac. Charlize Theron’s transformation to resemble Megyn Kelly is terrifyingly accurate, flexing her action muscles with intense vocal delivery and speech patterns. Casting is top notch, John Lithgow (Roger Ailes), Malcolm McDowell (Robert Murdoch), Kate McKinnon (Jess Carr) and Brigette Lundy-Paine (Julia Clarke) being the standouts. Everything mentioned just now owes a lot to the mind-blowing work from the makeup department which is the best around anywhere currently.
Bombshell struggles through its whole runtime with tone, ending up never finding a square for the square hole. It plays around with both mockumentary and documentary techniques in the beginning, then weirdly trying an old-school sitcom vibe and closing with pure biographical drama elements. It comes off as messy directing in the sense that it doesn’t utilise the actors enough (must point out that in technical terms there’s nothing done wrong). The script also loses Nicole Kidman (Gretchen Carlson) in the process by offering her nothing to work with in the end and leaving the Kayla/Jess dynamic lingering after building it up. You can’t help but feel like it didn’t really commit a hundred percent for the material.
Smileys: Makeup, Margot Robbie, casting, Charlize Theron, hairstyling
Frowneys: Inconsistent tone, side character work, slight shallowness
Doesn’t end up blowing up the material to pieces but it also doesn’t hold a pearl inside.