Nearly two years following the New York Times exposé detailing sexual assault allegations that thrust Harvey Weinstein into an unwanted limelight, the Hollywood mogul and producer tycoon still maintains that he’s never had a non-consensual sexual relationship. The original article that bust the doors of the Weinstein case wide open was published on Oct. 5, 2017. According to the BBC, Weinstein promised career success in exchange for sexual favors. This was the catalyst for the #MeToo movement that brought down Weinstein’s film empire. And now, the public gets to see how it all went down in the documentary Untouchable.
Many prominent actresses have come forward with allegations against Weinstein following the 2017 exposé. Among them: Gwenyth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and countless others. But, Untouchable gives a voice to the voiceless—those whose names didn’t give them the credibility that comes with fame. Untouchable shows Weinstein’s beginnings and his first victims.
The documentary begins with Erika Rosenbaum, an aspiring actress detailing how she thought she’d get her big break. With nothing in her pocket but a hope and a dream, she set off to Hollywood, planless but hungry to succeed.
“When you’re a young actor, you hear stories all the time about people just sort of putting it all on the line and taking the big chance and going out to Hollywood and then it happening,” Rosenbaum said.
The image is striking—putting a face to the allegation that Rosenbaum emailed The New York Times in 2017 just following the initial reports against Weinstein. In the documentary, she pulls headshots out of an envelope as she begins to explain the power Weinstein had over young actresses. She described him as a “starmaker.”
Rosenbaum, in the middle of the film, tells her story. She relays how Weinstein lured her into his hotel room to further their discussion about her career, an interaction she described as a “meeting.”
“I wanted to just get out, but I was afraid to upset him,” Rosenbaum said.
But before he made a name for himself, Weinstein was a music producer in Buffalo, N.Y., promoting concerts to locals. He teamed up with Corky Burger to create a concert promotion company by the name of Harvey & Corky Presents based in Buffalo. And the documentary wastes no time in cutting to an allegation of a woman who was assaulted before Weinstein even moved to film.
In 1978, Hope D’Amore found herself backstage of a Fleetwood Mac concert Weinstein was promoting in Buffalo. Weinstein and his brother Bob were just getting started moving their business into the movies—where they would eventually found Miramax. D’Amore, interested in movies, jumped at the chance to travel to New York with Weinstein when he asked. In the documentary, she tearfully describes Weinstein’s assault against her.
“If I get what I want, it was consensual,” D’Amore said. “I think he believed that.”
Untouchable shows the allure of Weinstein and his power. In one instance, Kathy Declesis—Bob Weinstein’s assistant at Miramax—describes the ease at which she could walk into either of the Weinstein’s office with a simple idea for a movie, and he could make it happen. Further, Mark Gill, the president of Miramax Los Angeles emphasized the amazing movies that Miramax created under Weinstein. These kinds of accounts humanize Weinstein. The documentary works to make the circumstances surrounding the allegations against Weinstein seem understandable, showing what drew people to Weinstein.
Posing a complex dichotomy, Untouchable strikes a difficult balance. On one hand, survivors are heard loud and clear, with raw interview accounts that emphasize the reality of the allegations against Weinstein. But on the other hand, those that worked closely with him described on camera Weinstein’s endearing qualities.
The range of interviewees astounds in Untouchable. From aspiring actresses to former employees, no stone is left unturned. The documentary gives first-hand accounts of pivotal moments in the Weinstein case that only those who were there would know. In one instance, Declesis describes the moment she opened a letter from a law firm that charged Weinstein with sexual assault.
Although Weinstein resigned from Miramax only days after the New York Times published the piece that revealed the allegations against him, Untouchable works to solidify Weinstein’s position of guilt. In the eyes of director Ursula Macfarlane, there is no possibility of Weinstein’s innocence. And in the age of the #MeToo movement, Macfarlane takes the reigns, a true example of believing survivors and letting them tell their stories.
Featured Image by Hulu