It’s hard to imagine a time before Harvey Weinstein was breaking news for being the world’s most disgusting human being. (He gave Citizen Dame stories for months during its formative years.) But with the news cycle discussing nearly every facet of the allegations against the disgraced mogul, on top of Ronan Farrow’s in-depth exposes, is there necessarily anything else that needs to be said?
Director Ursula Macfarlane’s Untouchable, now streaming on Hulu, certainly thinks so. What keeps Untouchable from being a total Cliffs Notes of the Weinstein scandal is the numerous women it interviews, many of whom fell under the radar compared to Weinstein’s more famous victims.
At a little over 90 minutes there’s a bizarre need to balance Weinstein history with the scandal itself. The requisite “who is Harvey Weinstein” elements are there, but they seem slight. The audience meets Weinstein after he’s already successful in the Buffalo, New York area as a music promoter. This section seems to exist solely to introduce Weinstein’s first victim, Hope D’Amore. D’Amore, as well as the other women interviewed, make Untouchable compelling. The camera does the now repetitive technique of staying on a person’s face for several beats to register all the emotion, but with D’Amore it’s necessary. She’s a woman who’s never felt believed and sharing her truth is cathartic.
In fact, the movie could just as easily excise Weinstein’s history completely and just be an oral history for his victims. Because the story is so well-trod and Weinstein such a big figure we don’t need to know about the founding of Miramax. At times there’s a weird celebratory tone as talking heads discuss what mavericks the Weinstein brothers were, using script pages to highlight all their hits. The problem is anyone watching this documentary already knows about Miramax.
That being said, it’s easy to ignore the Weinstein history lesson and listen to the women themselves. Not many big stars are involved, with Rosanna Arquette and Paz de la Huerta being the most recognizable. It’s obvious that all of them were chosen to express opinions that had been ignored in favor of larger names. Actress Erika Rosenbaum’s interview is particularly affecting and lays out the belief that many felt women who did get roles were often “sleeping” with Weinstein. De la Huerta’s story is also utterly haunting, especially coupled with the camera capturing her broken, hollowed-out gaze throughout.
The saddest element of Untouchable though isn’t necessarily the interviews, but the cultural apathy that’s touched on throughout. Various male employees of the Weinstein company acknowledge they always heard rumors, and even after Weinstein’s cover-ups were detailed in the late ’90s, many admitted they stayed. Sure, they feel regret, but they still did it. A former female Weinstein employee is particularly blunt and hits the nail on the head about why the men stayed: money and you’ll almost wish the documentary had a more angrier spirit that mimicked that.
Untouchable certainly lays out the Weinstein scandal for those who don’t know and the victims interviewed deserve your attention. But it’s doubtful anyone who followed the scandal at the time will learn anything new from this.
Untouchable is now streaming on Hulu.