One thing most of us who’ve been following closely will know about right wing news giant Fox News is its apparent obsession with identikit blonde female anchors. A sort of conveyor-belt of ready-made ultra conservative voices, all competing over who can be the most offensive. If you’ve ever wondered how we got here and where this whole aesthetic came from, then look no further, because Jay Roach’s new #MeToo inspired drama Bombshell goes a very long way into solving this mystery.
Starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie, the film focuses on the scandal that rocked the network in 2016, and which saw its former CEO Roger Ails accused of decades long sexual harassment allegations against several women who worked at the station.
When she is called upon to moderate the first Republican presidential debate in 2015, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (Theron) soon becomes an overnight figure of hate for Donald Trump and his army of MAGA maniacs who accuse her of bias. Amidst a war of words between the presenter and the would-be 45th president of the United States, Kelly is dejected when she is told to go easy on Trump by her boss Roger Ails (John Lithgow)
Meanwhile, things take a turn for the unexpected when after months of acrimonious interactions with Ails, former Fox and Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson (Kidman) is unceremoniously fired and told in no uncertain terms that she is coming across as too liberal. Soon Carlson, Kelly and new recruit Kayla (a researcher for the Bill O’Reilley show played by Margot Robbie) find that they have more in common than first thought.
This is a handsomely made, timely and genuinely engaging story that isn’t afraid of going above and beyond what is expected from it to expose the abuse of power at the very top of an organisation. And although, both director Roach and screenwriter Charles Randolph are careful not to implicate Fox owner Rupert Murdoch (Malcolm McDowell) or his sons (played by brothers Ben and Josh Lawson), who incidentally are depicted rather favourably here, there is still a lot to admire about the film.
Delivering three career best performances, Theron, Kidman and Robbie shine as they bounce ff each other impeccably throughout. For his part, John Lithgow is outstanding as Ails, whom he offers as a patrician, duplicitous and thoroughly deceitful character.
While some might have some, admittedly understandable, misgivings over the more comedic aspects of its narrative, there is still a lot to like about a film that manages to successfully highlight the similarities between the current White House inhabitant and a media empire’s seemingly untouchable status.
Bombshell is on general release from Friday January 17TH