I sat there watching Ursula MacFarlane’s Untouchable, drawn like the people around me by prurient interest in Hollywood tycoon Harvey Weinstein’s outrages. As it rolled on I realised that what I was watching was not documentary but narrative. Movies generate these - Dalton Trumbo as a political prisoner rather than the world’s best paid writer who worked out how to manufacture film scripts on an unprecedented factory basis, Leni Reifenstahl as a proponent of fascist ideology not someone who took on the Berlin Olympics movie because it gave her unprecedented film making resources and access to stud athletes like Hollywood Tarzan to be Glenn Morris.
Untouchable fails on finding out how “fat kid from the Bronx” Weinstein got to be the Hollywood billionaire deal maker in a few decades. It busies itself with his career as a serial sexual predator. There seems to be little doubt that Harvey Weinstein is a monster. Before all this broke I remember bad mouthing him at my Chinese movie event for his treatment of Stephen Chow and the destruction of the splendid Siu Lam juk kau/Shaolin Soccer. I thought at the time that could come back and bite me but I needn’t have worried. There is no sex in that narrative. Nobody cares.
The makers of Untouchable have enough to keep them going without any analysis of his creative work. A succession of women whom we know from their winning screen appearances show up to denounce him - Gwyneth Paltrow, Paz de la Huerta, Rosanna Arquette. Add the technically blind actress whose silhouette with guide dog is their knockout punch. Details of the fortune spent with the sinister security company trying to intimidate his opponents is overlaid with ominous music. That photo of Weinstein with Hilary Clinton must have raised a hoot of triumph in the production office. Scenes of the Me Too movement filling the streets of Manhattan are a judgement of near Biblical proportions.
The only thing they left out is Weinstein being stripped of his Fellowship in the British Film Institute. Now that must have stung.
The film’s production values are strong. The making is accomplished, even innovative retaining the interview sections where the subjects pause or think.
We’ve already had Jordan Hill’s Beyond Boundaries: The Harvey Weinstein Scandal (2018), Barry Avrich’s Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project (2011) Panorama - Weinstein: The Inside Story (2018) – and counting. It’s hard to add anything to all this determined shaming. My sympathy goes out to the producers of the inevitable TV movie to come. How can they top documentary casting offering imperiled Paltrow, Rose Byrne, Arquette and the rest? Where will they get someone so perfect a clean cut hero as crusading Ronan Farrow and what chance has Kevin Spacey in a fat suit against Weinstein himself who already gave a better performance than all the real life movie stars he accompanied in Joe Eszterhas’ An Allen Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn?