Bombshell

Bombshell ★★★½

Bombshell is a hotbed of gossip and innuendo, belittlement and ridicule, dominance and subservience, all busheled up in a vacuum, as it recounts how the women of Fox News Channel came forward one by one in 2016 to incriminate news honcho Roger Ailes and the rest of the power-tripping men who made their work environment a sexual harassment swamp.

I always considered 1987's "Broadcast News" a very good film (not a great one, though), but everything in that feels quaint compared to the frantic power struggles and tensions and hunger for acceptance that Bombshell is able to depict. To get those ratings? Dial it down to the lowest common denominator. Create fear with your news, don't educate.

Pre-2016, I never bothered with Fox News because at the time I felt it as News Lite with journalistic ethics a tad above the standards of "National Inquirer." I naively didn't think, or know, that that many people took Fox News seriously.

As I've come to realize that hard-nose right-wing people take Fox News seriously, and so in recent years I've turned it on time to time, just to see what the other side sees: it gradually molded into propaganda to serve Donald Trump agendas, and the film conveys that, too. But consider this an out of left field admission by me that I'm shocked to share: After the film, I think now if I knew Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) in real life, I might like her as a person. Homespun and clear-headed.

Looking elsewhere in the film, I liked the practicality of Mark Duplass as the husband of Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron). That's it. That's two people I liked. All the other people, with their self-absorption and dogmatic theatrics, well, I can't stand them.

That's not to say I wasn't fascinated with the film's candor of who they are. And that's not to also say I feel bad for the principal women characters here, and Kidman, Theron and Margot Robbie tackle these characters with fearlessness and tenacity, unafraid to show the pretty side of what they had to show in their daily masquerade, and the ugly side of themselves when things get compromised and ugly.

John Lithgow is slabbed with fat man makeup, given huge jowls and huge love handles and all, and he's tremendous in an yucky role that requires him to be profane and lecherous — the seasoned actor raises the tenor of his voice to match the repugnant roly-poly body as his Ailes summons up workplace toxicity.

All of what transpires in the film is like being stuck in a loud, swirling vacuum for two hours, it's exhausting.

Yet Bombshell, as written by Charles Randolph ("The Big Short") and Jay Roach ("Game Change"), zeroes in on the pestering language that Ailes, and other debauchers, took part in; yeah, so much of the film is unpleasant, but what it gives us to look at and consider is peerless.

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