It’s not uncommon for me to stare at a beautiful woman like Charlize Theron, but in Bombshell I was fixated on her face for the wrong reason: I kept trying to figure out why it looked odd. That’s because her features were altered to make her resemble former Fox News “star” Megyn Kelly. The changes are subtle but I found them distracting, all the more so because I have little acquaintance with the high-profile anchorwoman. Did the resemblance have to be so exact for Theron’s performance to be convincing?
The film as a whole suffers from tunnel vision. Charles Randolph’s screenplay is so tightly focused on happenings at Fox News that if you didn’t follow the players in this real-life drama—and I didn’t—you may find it difficult to care.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is an issue that demands the spotlight until it is eradicated. But that doesn’t make the story of Roger Ailes and the women he manipulated automatically compelling. The subject has already been dramatized in the miniseries The Loudest Voice, with Russell Crowe as Ailes. Bombshell features another fine actor, John Lithgow, in that role, under a ton of makeup and a fat suit.
There’s no faulting Theron’s performance or those of Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie. They are all first-rate. The supporting cast is peppered with solid performers even in small-ish roles, including Kate McKinnon, Allison Janney, Alice Eve, Jennifer Morrison, Mark Duplass, Malcolm McDowell, Alanna Ubach, Connie Britton, Stephen Root, Robin Weigert, and Richard Kind.
Director Jay Roach has proven himself adept at telling contemporary tales in films like Recount and Game Change, and he gives this one the immediacy and authenticity it demands. Bombshell also has one chilling and memorable scene in which Ailes humiliates newcomer Robbie under the ruse of an audition. It’s the highlight of the picture.
Ironically, Bombshell resembles nothing so much as a TV movie with an inflated budget and an all-star ensemble. That’s hardly a recommendation to run out and see it in theaters.