Movies are made for many different reasons. Sometimes, directors make them to entertain us, sometimes they make movies to help us take a couple hours away from reality. And sometimes directors make movies to make us think. What She Said is the latter. It may be difficult for some people to watch due to the topic. But it brings out an important discussion that people need to have.
Sam (Jenny Lester) has been raped. That rape happened a year beforehand. And she made the difficult decision to drop the charges against her attacker. She just wants it all to go away and for people to stop talking about it. To escape, she’s retreated to the family cabin for the Thanksgiving weekend. Her brother Eli (Britt Michael Gordon) thinks she’s making a horrible decision that will come back and haunt her. Thus, he has decided to come to the cabin to confront his sister. He hasn’t come alone however, and has brought not only their sister in tow, but several of their friends as well. He believes an intervention can help change his sister’s mind, and he won’t take no for an answer.
What She Said is a movie about personal choices, and Sam taking back control of her life after someone took that control from her. It begs you to answer the question of what the responsibility of the victim is, to themselves or to society on the whole. Each of the characters has a different argument. And all feel the effects of the horrific event in some way or another. The movie itself is an emotional tug of war as it forces you to see the rape from several sides. However, it’s Sam’s side that matters the most and the film doesn’t fall flat because of the powerful acting by Jenny Lester.
Lester plays the role of the victim who is cutting her emotions off in order to get past the traumatic event she went through. This isn’t an easy role to play. You can see the cold, dark place she had to enter in order to play the role well. And she brings you along for the ride. Perhaps her performance is partly due to the fact that Lester not only stars in the film, but she wrote it as well. She knew Sam inside and out, and it shows.
What She Said can be difficult to watch, but it’s important to watch nonetheless, especially during the #MeToo movement. The victim is the one who needs to have the voice in this type of situation. They are the one who is living through the horror of it all, and seeing things through their eyes can be rough.