Climbing The Ladder

Stars: Charlize Theron (Megyn Kelly), Nicole Kidman (Gretchen Carlson), Margot Robbie (Kayla Popisil), John Lithgow (Roger Ailes), Mark Duplass (Megyn’s husband, Douglas), Kate McKinnon, Malcolm McDowell (Rubert Murdoch) and Connie Britton (Beth Ailes)
Director: Jay Roach
Scriptwriter: Charles Randolph
Composer: Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd
Rating: R for language and themed material
Running Length: 110 Minutes 

The rise and fall of power can happen within the political field, athletic field and entertainment field.   “Bombshell” tells the story of power within the television field, as pertains to who within a particular network has the prime job of hiring and firing employees and who can give an employee air time to show their talent.  “Bombshell” goes behind the scenes to tell the story of Roger Ailes (well-played by John Lithgow) who was the Chairman of Fox News.  He was not someone to cross.  How he managed behind the scenes was a secret until women began to protest his manner of running a major company.  This is their story. 

The film begins with Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), a top reporter at Fox News, who is going to moderate Republican candidates running for the Presidency.  Her main topic being Donald Trump and his remarks about women. Afterward, Kelly is the receiver of endless tweets about her that are brutal.  Now, she is in the spotlight and has to protect her children from errant photographers.  In the meantime, Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) was a co-host of Fox and Friends, but demoted to a lesser place. She complains, but has a contract to uphold.  Then comes, Rudi Baharat (Nazanin Boniadi) who was actually fired for reporting her boss’s harassment.  She, also, was told not to sue. Then, we go to Kayla Popisil (Margot Robbie) who is a young reporter wanting to work at Fox News. She begins, then goes to Bill O’Reilly’s show, where she almost fails, until learning to be tougher on the air.  The three women, Megyn, Gretchen and Kayla finally meet and agree to sue Roger Ailes, the man, who, with sexual intent, is harassing women. You know there is going to be a trial and though this story was front page news, still to see the actors portray the characters and physically look like them, is interesting. 

There are several stories being told in “Bombshell” and this film should have been a television series to adequately tell the story of Megyn, Gretchen, Kayla, Rudi and others who come forward telling of their treatment from Ailes. However, in the film’s allotted time, we go from one person to another without detail and you begin to wonder if you missed something especially when they are discussing news stories…then another news story…then another, then back to a personal experience and so on. It feels rushed. The script for “Bombshell” seems to have been edited to the bone. 

The female actors did not make an impression, and because they are being groomed for the camera, have similarities such as hair styles and make-up.  They face the movie camera the same way an on-air reporter would.  It is John Lithgow as Roger Ailes, who steals the film.  People are afraid of him and let him get away with anything such as foul language, sexual innuendo and the cunning of an animal seizing up its prey and just waiting for the right time to pounce. 

“Bombshell” gives you an idea of what it is like to work at a major network where time is of the essence.  It is sink or swim and the hardy manage to stay afloat, the hardiest rising beyond into the clean air, while the rest fall to the bottom.  I had hoped more of the stories could have been explored, but they were not.  


Copyright 2020 Marie Asner