Sundance 2019: Untouchable Review – It’s Bigger Than Harvey Weinstein

I was worried Untouchable would just be all the stuff we already learned about Harvey Weinstein in the last year and a half. Unfortunately, there is still way more horrible stuff this documentary can reveal, and put it in the context of the system that enabled him.

The first detailed story we hear is from Hope D’Amore. She shares the significant detail of Weinstein pressuring her for sex saying, “Do you really want to make me an enemy for five minutes of your time?” Five minutes is a lifetime of trauma. Holding on her face in silence is even more telling than the story itself.

Then several Miramax employees share details of how Weinstein behaved and how their jobs depended on enabling it. One quit when the first assistant signed an NDA to settle a sexual harassment claim, others regret not speaking up.

Then we meet Zelda Perkins, whose assistant got assaulted by Weinstein at the 1998 Venice Film Festival. She’s got some voicemails from Weinstein begging her to make up with him. Ken Auletta of The New Yorker found the NDA Perkins’ assistant signed for her $250,000 settlement. It said she could not even talk about this with a therapist, or had to get the therapist to sign an NDA also. Just imagine going through an assault, and then to resolve it you have to give up the therapy necessary to recover. Don’t say she should sue instead. You know the system was protecting Weinstein in the ‘90s. That’s the point. Auletta was not able to include this in his New Yorker profile due to lack of proof, thus protecting the Weinstein mystique for more decades.

Erika Rosenbaum came from Quebec to make it in Hollywood. She accepted a hotel room meeting with Weinstein and explains how a savvy woman assessed the risk she needed to take for her career. He claimed other established stars had done this (they hadn’t but he named big stars). Rosenbaum got out of that scenario but never got a role out of it. She encountered Weinstein again years later and he learned how to make her more vulnerable.

Then several women tell their stories: Rosanna Arquette, Paz de la Huerta, Caitlin Dulany. Nanette Klatt and Louise Godbold. Some have appeared in other coverage to some degree and others less so. It’s valuable that Untouchable allows so many survivors a voice.

Untouchable makes another salient point that even when these were only whispered rumors, the rumors were “this actress slept with him, this actress gave him a blow job.” It was never HE slept with them.

Weinstein assaulted reporters at a party for MTV VJ Duff, and he was powerful enough to bury all the photos of the event. By the time it gets to Ronan Farrow, it’s historic how he was able to break through Weinstein’s machine. It helped he had some incriminating audio evidence, but it still took a lot.

The conclusion of Untouchable is the most important. It’s not enough to catch Weinstein, get rid of him and make him face charges. There’s a system that allows Weinsteins to thrive. We have to change the system. Untouchable is the origin story of how we fix the whole system.

Written by
Fred Topel also known as Franchise Fred has been an entertainment journalist since 1999 and specializes in writing about film, television and video games. Fred has written for several outlets including About.com, CraveOnline, and Rotten Tomatoes among others. His favorite films include Toy Story 2, The Rock, Face/Off, True Lies, Labyrinth, The Big Hit, Michael Moore's The Big One, and Casablanca. We are very lucky and excited to have Fred as part of the We Live Entertainment team. Follow him on Twitter @FranchiseFred and @FredTopel

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