'Bombshell' may not paint Roger Ailes' picture as thoroughly as 'The Loudest Voice' but focus on the perspective of women involved
Aside from exploring Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, ‘Bombshell’ will also depict the aftermath of then-presidential nominee Donald Trump's comment on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as having "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever"
The trailer for ‘Bombshell’ dropped last week and it has blown everyone away. Charlize Theron as former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly looks and sounds so precise, it’s almost creepy. The film’s plot, from the perspective of a group of female employees, follows the downfall of Roger Ailes after a series of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations.
Written and produced by Charles Randolph, the trailer exudes a fast-paced, almost-comedic vibe reminiscent of Randolph’s ‘The Big Short’. But is the film likely to do justice to this story?
Earlier this year, we saw yet another story based on the life of Ailes. It was the Showtime series ‘The Loudest Voice’. While one can argue who looks more like Ailes; a heavily prosthetic-ed John Lithgow or a heavily prosthetic-ed Russel Crowe, the real question that should be asked is: can a film paint the picture of a complex man the same way as a TV series?
After all, it is the story of Fox News and Roger Ailes and to paraphrase the show, one can’t tell the story of Fox News without telling the story of Ailes. While The New Yorker magazine describes the series as “a pungent profile of a nauseating figure,” The Guardian argues that the show missed “the bigger story” and painted such a one-dimensional image of a megalomaniac, “that it is hard even to see Ailes as the visionary he undoubtedly was.”
What ‘The Loudest Voice’ essentially does, and what writer Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) does best, is tell a story well. From its humble beginnings in 1995 to the fall of the World Trade Center to the 2016 Presidential elections, the show follows the life of the right-wing news runner both on professional and private fronts. And it does so well.
We see his cunning, his obtuseness towards facts, his power trips and his dirty side. We also see his sexual misconduct and his misuse of the employer-employee power imbalance in stark light. But the show achieves this because a series-format can.
Does a 108-minute-long feature then stand a chance to paint a picture worthy of the man? It seems somewhat unlikely. But perhaps it doesn’t intend to. In addition to exploring Gretchen Carlson's (Nicole Kidman) sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, ‘Bombshell’ will also depict the aftermath of then-presidential nominee Donald Trump's comment on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as having "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever," after she hosted Republican debate in August 2015.
So, in a way, it isn’t Ailes’ story at all. In an interview with Deadline, Lithgow, who plays Ailes in ‘Bombshell’ emphasized how the film would focus on the female voices. "It's a film very much about the women," Lithgow said, adding, "There's so much talk about the very good signs that there are so many great women's stories being told. This might be one of the best because it really is about six or seven extremely different women who have extremely different experiences and the response to the crisis at Fox. I play the crisis."
A picture is worth a thousand words and a film is probably worth a million of them. What remains to be seen is if that should prove to be enough to do this story justice.
‘Bombshell’ will be released on December 20.