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Untouchable

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Untouchable Movie Poster Image
Weinstein's alleged sex crimes explored; language, violence.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Harvey Weinstein, accused of repeated sexual misconduct, may have gotten away with sexual crimes for decades by paying off female victims and keeping them quiet through the use of non-disclosure agreements threatening steep consequences.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tape-recorded and videotaped instances show Weinstein to be a coarse, crude, violent bully, suggesting he was willing to use his fame, position, and wealth to threaten the less powerful into keeping secrets about his misconduct.  

Violence

Women, dating back to at least 1978, describe being forced to have unwanted sexual contact with Weinstein. Weinstein is seen and heard on tape cursing out and threatening people he conceives to be enemies. In one case, a man recounts Weinstein throwing a large marble ashtray at him He's described to have held a journalist in a headlock and pounded on the man's head in front of witnesses, all in the effort to get a device that recorded Weinstein criticizing the writer. Several accounts of forced sexual contact are described. According to multiple accounts, Weinstein treated numerous young women to dinners with movie stars and promised them work and help with their careers, then, using a repeating pattern, invited them to his hotel rooms where he often removed his pants, or his clothes, and demanded massages that led, in some cases, to masturbation, oral sex, or rape. Some alleged victims report they froze and went along out of fear. ("He was huge.") Others bolted. None called their sexual encounters "consensual," the word Weinstein's defense now uses to deny all charges. In a recording, Weinstein yells at photographers dogging him, with threats that they'll never work again. On audio tape, he begs a resistant young woman to come into his hotel room and not make a scene in front of other people. The woman refuses and refers to the time he touched her breast against her wishes. He dismisses this as nothing, saying, "I'm used to that."

Sex

Repeated stories dating back decades describe alleged sexual harassment, attacks, and outright rape by Weinstein against women in his orbit. Painfully, the accusers recount details of their fear as he begged, coerced, menaced, and in some cases threatened them in his efforts to receive or simply takes sexual favors from them. The charges include luring and then cornering women in various hotel rooms, inappropriate touching, forced massages, forced oral sex, masturbating over them, and actual penetration.  

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "c--t," "pr--k," "bitch," and "ass."

Consumerism

Harvey Weinstein and his various movie distribution and production companies were responsible for many Oscar-winning, highly-praised, and commercially-successful films and also, perhaps, for both promoting and ending the careers of many young actresses and film workers. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that serial sexual assault is described in Untouchable, a documentary exploring the alleged sexual misconduct of powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Women come forward to, in some cases, graphically describe alleged abuse at Weinstein's hands. Also described in detail is the fear expressed by victims regarding retaliation from the well-connected Hollywood producer should they disclose his actions. Language includes "f--k," "s--t" "c--t," and "bitch."

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What's the story?

The documentary UNTOUCHABLE describes alleged sexual abuse from as early as 1978 by Harvey Weinstein, the famed Hollywood producer who would go on to distribute such cult classics as sex lies and videotapeCinema Paradiso, My Left Foot, and Pulp Fiction. One woman alleges she was pressured to have sex against her will when she was a student at University of Buffalo and Weinstein was a young concert promoter. Director Ursula Macfarlane references numerous well-known actors and others not so well known. Among the more famous are Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Rosanna Arquette describes her ordeal on camera. Some continued to maintain work relationships with him for fear of career-threatening retribution. Interviews with men who had worked for Weinstein add physical violence to his alleged misconduct. Men and women alike who have worked with him describe him as both "charming" and "a monster you wouldn't want to cross…vicious." One male Miramax executive called Weinstein "an equal opportunity abuser." Ronan Farrow, author of a long investigative expose about Weinstein published in The New Yorker, reports that while gathering information for the piece, he received threatening phone calls, was followed, and otherwise harassed by Weinstein minions. So wide-reaching was Weinstein's power and influence that, although The New Yorker writer Ken Auletta had the story a decade earlier than Farrow, the magazine feared publishing without more corroboration.

Is it any good?

This documentary is a sobering, restrained, and astutely-constructed recounting of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, starting with charges made by women long before he even got into the movie business. Allegations are presented clearly as they have been in numerous news stories and in the indictment that led to his arrest. What feels strongest in Untouchable are interviews with men and women who worked with him for years. One man feels guilty that he didn't leave Weinstein sooner. One woman learned of an attack against a young woman and wrote a memo about it (it would later be leaked to the press) and then resigned. A niggling criticism is that interviewee identifications are made only once and for faces unfamiliar to the public, the viewer can find it difficult to recall the significance of some talking heads when they reappear in the story.

There's optimism here in that exposing Weinstein may someday result in punishment equal to his alleged misdeeds, and that the aftermath of his story, the Bill Cosby conviction, as well as allegations against Louis CK and others, is now part of a national conversation that spawned the #MeToo movement. But realists point out that abuse continues in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley, in government, in health care, in car dealerships, advertising agencies, and just about anywhere that people work together in boss-underling situations, and that, for the foreseeable future, we can expect powerful people to continue to try to get away with it.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how money and power seem to have helped Weinstein cover up alleged crimes for decades. Do stories like this make it seem as if the wealthy can get away with misdeeds that put poor people in prison? 

  • What's wrong with people in a position of power asking their employees for sexual favors? Does Untouchable show how difficult it can be for low-level employees to say no when solicited by bosses?

  • What do you think people who have been victims of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault should do? Confront employers? Tell the police? Why do you think victims might be reluctant to come forward?

Movie details

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