For over three decades, Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted, abused, and raped women until he was brought down by two New York Times investigative reporters, Megan Twohey, played by Carey Mulligan, and Jodi Kantor, played by Zoe Kazan. Directed by Maria Schrader, “She Said” is more than a play-by-the-numbers account of the investigation, we get acquainted with the two journalists, both working mothers, who put their personal lives on hold to uncover the truth and it demonstrates the long-lasting effects of Weinstein’s abuse as we listen to the survivors recount the chilling details.

“She Said” seems to jump right into the Weinstein investigation as the film begins with reporter Megan Twohey (Mulligan) frustrated as a phone call comes into the New York Times. The angry voice on the other end, however, is not the Hollywood mogul, but then-presidential candidate Donald Trump (voiced by James Austin Johnson) who is furious and threatening legal action upon learning he is under investigation for sexual misconduct. It’s 2016. Twohey, who is pregnant, receives death threats because of the Trump investigation. Next up, Bill O’Reilly, who is under fire after a Times investigation uncovers secret settlements with women accusing the Fox News host of sexual misconduct. O’Reilly resigns and gets a $25 million payout, and Trump becomes president.

Jump to 2017 as Times reporter Jodi Kantor (Kazan) follows a lead regarding actress Rose McGowan (voiced by actress Keilly McQuail), who reveals she was raped by Weinstein in the 90s at the Sundance Film Festival. The film also covers Gwyneth Paltrow’s sexual abuse by Weinstein, but she is neither seen nor heard in the film, just mentioned, as Kantor and Twohey, now working together on the investigation, visit her home and wait poolside.

The film features very good performances by Patricia Clarkson as Times editor Rebecca Corbett and Andre Braugher as Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet. The two keep pushing Twohey and Kantor to find someone who will go on the record as McGowan and Paltrow aren’t ready. Corbett keeps the reporters on task while appearing at times as their surrogate mother while Baquet, who’s dealt with Weinstein in the past, keeps reminding them to be careful, “You have to imagine that every call you make is being recorded and you’re being followed.”

One of the film’s most powerful performances comes from Ashley Judd playing herself. In 1997 while working on “Kiss the Girls” the actress was sexually harassed by Weinstein. She reenacts that turbulent part of her life for the film as she reaches out to Kantor agreeing to go on the record. It was Judd’s admission that helped other women come forward.

Based on Twohey and Kantor’s book “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement” adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, the film keeps the audience engrossed. Clocking in just over 2 hours, Mulligan and especially Kazan deliver superb performances as investigative journalists. The supporting cast is also exceptional with Samantha Morton as Weinstein’s former PA who describes her former boss as “a master manipulator” but she also notes that the story is much bigger than the man who tried to rape her, “This is about the system protecting abusers” and then there’s Jennifer Ehle as survivor Laura Madden who is reluctant to go on the record, changing her mind after receiving a threatening phone call from Weinstein’s people discouraging her to talk to the press. Unlike so many other women, Madden didn’t sign an NDA, so she’s free to divulge the truth without facing legal repercussions.

Perhaps the most haunting part of “She Said” is the shot of a hotel lobby as the voice recording of Weinstein trying to coerce model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez into his hotel room is heard. The excruciating audio seems to go on forever as the sexual predator repeatedly tells his victim “Don’t embarrass me” as she resists his advances.

Working in favor of the film is Schrader’s attempt of humanizing her two leads. We become acquainted with Twohey who suffers from postpartum depression and Kantor, who feels empathy for the women abused by Weinstein, as they juggle their roles as mothers with their careers which take up most of their time. “She Said” feels rushed in the final chapter, and the pacing is off at times, but the performances are first-rate.

I love films about investigative journalists. When I was in middle school, I argued with the manager of the local movie theater who wouldn’t let me in to see “All the President’s Men” because it was rated R. I stated it was only rated PG and we went back and forth for several minutes. Finally, I convinced him to step outside where I pointed to the poster that was clearly marked PG. Victory at last. “She Said” keeps you engaged regardless of knowing the outcome. Bet then again, do we really know the outcome? I feel this story is far from over.

(3 ½ stars)

Now showing in theaters

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Joe Friar head and shoulders

Joe Friar

Member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Latino Entertainment Journalists Association (LEJA), the Houston Film Critics Society, and a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.