Bombshell (2019) Review

Director Jay Roach and screenwriter Charles Randolph, who won an Oscar for 2015’s The Big Short, seamlessly incorporate satire and biographical drama in this lively (and dramatic) re-telling of the notorious 2016 Fox News scandal.

The scandal in question involves the network CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), who is responsible for sexually harassing numerous female employees over the years. No women dare to step out in fear of losing their jobs or worst-case scenario, their entire careers. But it’s not until the host of Fox & Friends Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) decided to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. Joining her in the quest of bringing down the seemingly untouchable Roger Ailes include two other women in the office, star anchor Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and newbie Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie).

At first glance, blending satire into hot-button subject matters like sexual harassment, complete with cheeky break-the-fourth-wall moments seem like a huge make-or-break gamble. This is especially true if the movie ends up being either insensitive or downright juvenile. But that’s hardly the case in Bombshell, thanks to Charles Randolph’s snappy yet engaging script.

Jay Roach’s pacey direction helps too as he successfully balanced between comedy and drama without going overboard or making things heavy-handed. Like the pressure-cooker newsroom setting and its fiery subject matter itself, Roach sets up Bombshell like a ticking bomb (no pun intended) waiting to explode anytime while keeping the pace lean and urgent.

The movie also largely works with the help of a solid ensemble all around, particularly the three lead actresses played by Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie. For Theron, she completely immersed herself into the role of Megyn Kelly and nails everything right down to a tee regardless of the appearance, body language or even the voice. This is definitely one of those great roles that the Oscar can’t afford to ignore (read: acting nomination).

The supporting roles are just as top-notch, beginning with Nicole Kidman’s excellent turn as Gretchen Carlson while Margot Robbie made quite a lasting impression as Kayla Pospisil, even though she is a fictional character created just for the movie. The latter even has an unforgettable moment in Bombshell. The kind that made you feel uneasy in a scene involving her and Ailes behind closed doors of his office room.

Speaking of Ailes, John Lithgow — all plumped up convincingly in a fat suit, heavy prosthetics and the magic of makeup — does a terrific job playing such a vile and hateful character as the disgraced CEO of Fox News. As for the rest, Kate McKinnon has her own worthwhile moments as Kayla’s lesbian colleague Jess Carr while Malcolm McDowell made the most out of his brief screentime playing the media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Bombshell is undoubtedly one of the best movies I’ve ever seen this year. Not to mention the movie’s ripped-from-the-headlines storyline is timely enough at the current age of #MeToo movement.

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