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film review

An image from The Reckoning: Hollywood's Worst Kept Secret.Courtesy of Hot Docs

  • The Reckoning: Hollywood’s Worst-Kept Secret
  • Directed by Barry Avrich
  • Classification N/A
  • 90 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

In October 2017, as the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal was breaking, and powerful men were imploding like condemned buildings (Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K.), Toronto-based director Barry Avrich (The Last Mogul) hastened to capture the cultural moment. He cast a wide net, filming interviews with journalists (Ken Auletta from The New Yorker, Kim Masters from The Hollywood Reporter, Margaret Wente from The Globe and Mail), ex-Weinstein employees, and actresses who have made accusations. Not the powerful ones, such as Uma Thurman or Gwyneth Paltrow; he went for lesser-known, less protected subjects, the women who had everything to lose. And he landed the first filmed interview with Dylan Farrow, who has accused her father, Woody Allen, of molesting her.

For Avrich, this reckoning was also personal. In 2011, he’d made a doc about Weinstein (Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project). He’d heard whispers of the mogul’s abuse, but couldn’t get anyone on the record. Perhaps what someone in this new film calls “the inertia of self-interest” was a factor.

So how does this documentary play now, a year into the scandal, when the urgency has cooled, at least in Hollywood, and the information feels familiar rather than shocking? Well, guess what, it’s still shocking, in its sheer volume and detail.

As the actress and Weinstein accuser Katherine Kendall puts it in her interview, “It took two seconds for the movement to explode. That’s for a reason.”

In a 24-hour period 1.2 million women posted #MeToo stories. So in Avrich’s three-part structure – What happened? How did it happen? What’s next? – the urgency has shifted to the final third. We have the story, a mountain of undeniable stories. Now how are we going to change it?

The Reckoning opens Nov. 23 in Toronto