It seems no topic today is more polarizing, and more incendiary, than politics. And Jay Roach (All the Way, 2016) is still building a name for himself as a talented and topical director uniquely adept at telling political stories. But instead of showing us the high-stakes complications of mainstream political lives like he did with Recount (2008) and Game Change (2012), Bombshell tells a story about the politics of the workplace and the politics of gender.
Women working at the Fox News network start to address the misogyny and harassment from their chairman and CEO Roger Ailes (a bombastic John Lithgow, Daddy's Home 2, 2017), both privately and very publicly, in the summer of 2016. But hoping to change the toxic work environment dominated by such powerful men does not have all the women coming together.
Bombshell is fierce and feminist while also being understated, patient, and tempered. It is this tempered writing and tempered acting that makes the film realistic with a gently sustained tension. Charlize Theron's (Long Shot, 2019) fully transformed performance is magnetic and adds a lot to the film's continued tension. The film's title is a bit misleading because there's not much of the shouting rapid-fire arguing or shocking twists you might expect. But Bombshell is still fascinating, and it works hard at showing the conservative Fox News universe through a balanced and honest lens (which is part of the reason it doesn't have such a sharp bite). Being more emotionally and inwardly focused gives the film a heart that is angry and wounded...but still beating.
All adults (not just women) should see this film because it helps viewers understand what harassment feels like, and it shows viewers different examples of how harassment affects different women.