Harvey Weinstein was on top of the world, a celebrated movie producer seemingly at the top of his game in the early 90s. An independent movie darling, willing to make movies others including studios wouldn’t touch. Under the Miramax banner they produced hit after hit , launching more than one movie stars and Directors career. But along with the glitz and glimmer of Hollywood there was a seedy underbelly of abuse and manipulation perpetuated by a sexual predator who wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer.
‘Untouchable’ recounts some of these cases, highlighting in detail the ordeals these women had to endure at the hands of ‘Weinstein’. It is difficult to hear, punctuated by pictures of Weinstein smiling for the camera, embracing these women like nothing had happened. The stories are harrowing and disgusting detailing coercion/bullying, assault and sexual assault.
Indeed at one point the Documentary shows the length Harvey went to to discredit these women hiring former a mossad-led agency called ‘Black Cube’ to target them. A low tactic to invalidate their stories with positive publicity shots showing their happiness with him. Air tight NDA agreements that painted them into a corner of complete silence. Coercion and bullying tactics. At the height of his ‘power’ it would take one phone call and that actress would never work again.
It is especially difficult when the industry itself is so cutthroat. To also deal with a megalomaniac who was so persistently predatory that saying no in itself was a difficult task. Even then saying no didn’t mean anything to Weinstein; another challenge to overcome, to conquer. Indeed it would seem, from his very skewed perspective, that these encounters we’re acceptable and condoned because it ‘happens all the time’ in the industry.
If that statement wasn’t shocking enough by itself it is the condoning of these actions by others in the industry who turned a blind eye that are truly abhorrent. Commerce taking precedent over humanity, decency and morality. In this regard it took Disney 12 years to part ways with Weinstein, taking his prized possession ‘Miramax’ in the deal in 2005. It is in this area that the documentary felt a little light, marginally highlighting those who we’re complicit in keeping this abuse quiet for so long while making boat loads of money in the process. Disney seemed to provide shelter for his actions, an unlimited check book and the power for him to be ‘untouchable’.
It is worth noting that only after Disney parted ways with Weinstein did any of these allegations get to see the light of day even then it wasn’t an easy task. Ronan Farrow breaking an explosive story in ‘The New Yorker in 2017 which included a recording of a ‘sting’ operation by New York police headed by Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez where Weinstein is recorded in their second encounter - the first he allegedly touched her breasts - in this he is trying to coerce her to watch him take a shower in his hotel room.
What’s highlighted is the deep shame that these women felt that somehow they were complicit in these actions and the stigma of being branded a survivor and the ‘machine’ at work to keep them silent forever. It is worth noting that the use of an NDA to hide sexual assault is disturbing to say the least. That those in power can use this mechanism to keep abuse away from the public eye is staggering. In the end I can see a more comprehensive documentary being made on this subject which goes behind the scenes exposing the lies.