It’s not often that you get to see three of the biggest and most brilliant female actors of a generation working alongside each other, but Bombshell brings together Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie to tell the explosive story of the Fox news scandal. Director Jay Roach’s (Austin Powers, Meet the Fockers, The Campaign) vision of the infamous story is perfect for the ‘Me Too’ era and remains engrossing throughout.
In 2016 the course of American media was changed forever when a sexual assault scandal rocked Fox News and dethroned Roger Ailes as one of the most powerful men in the media industry. This same story, it should be said, was the subject of the 2019 Showtime mini-series The Loudest Voice, but the new film adaptation focuses wholly on the women who were affected. Two of the three powerhouse protagonists are based on the real people who brought justice to the case- Gretchen Carlson (the former Fox and Friends news host, and former Miss America, who launched the case against Roger Ailes, played by Nicole Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (a former Fox News host and trained attorney, played by Charlize Theron). Robbie’s outstanding supporting character, Kayla Pospisil, an extremely right-wing, conservative TV presenter/journalist wannabe, is completely fictional though. Her story serves as our exclusive insight into what might have gone on in the private office of Ailes on the second floor of the Fox headquarters. I cannot stress how perfect the casting in this film is. Even the minor supporting cast is made up of magnificent actors, such as Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, and Connie Britton. It is also worth noting that John Lithgow’s excellent portrayal of repulsive Ailes is enough to make you squirm.
Bombshell situates itself in a period of recent history which still seems raw. Following the 'Me Too' movement and various sexual abuse scandals, it feels vital and necessary to have been made. I’m sure many people can relate to the injustice received by the women in the film- the endless sexist ‘banter’, the missing out on promotions, and the impenetrable glass-ceiling to name but a few – making it even more frustrating and intense. There are moments so utterly cringe-worthy and uncomfortable that you wish you weren’t watching it. But what’s most fascinating is the incredible efforts of the women who courageously came forward- including Kelly- and subsequently managed to bring down the most powerful man in American television, despite Fox being one of the most sought after (and untouchable) American media companies. The film briefly focuses on the previously failed lawsuits brought against the company for similar offences, which only make this case even more remarkable.
Bombshell’s timeline also parallels with the 2016 Trump election. We see the horrendous abuse Megyn Kelly is subjected to online following an altercation with Donald Trump, the outrageous ‘anger menstruation’ Trump remarks and the infuriating resistance to the case. Roach’s stylistic approach to the way real media footage is cut with clever pieces of drama is masterful. In parts, you feel like you’re actually watching the scandal unfold on live TV, especially within Kelly’s storyline. That, in part, is also down to the spot-on hair and make-up.
Bombshell is a film where the subject feels so archaic and horrific that it’s scary, especially knowing that it’s recent history, but it’s so well handled- with its on-point casting, dynamic script and mix of real-life footage – that you’ll leave the cinema equally furious and inspired. It’s a film that needed to be made, given that history keeps repeating itself, but, most importantly, needs to be seen to be believed.
Bombshell hit UK Cinemas 17th January 2020
Edited by Andriani Scordellis, Film Editor, and Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor