What Pauline Kael thought of your movie could make or break it. Lauded and hated at the same time, directors either wished for her praise or totally ignored her.
This polarizing film lover is the subject of this documentary, and the story of her life and work is nothing short of astounding. Kael was a force in the industry, and she broke barriers and wasn’t afraid to piss people off.
As a critic, it was so strange and wonderful to watch a film about someone with some serious vigour and conviction. She was hard on the late Stanley Kubrick — hated both The Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey — and Ridley Scott goes on record with his distaste for her over how she treated sci-fi classic Blade Runner.
It shows both the bravery and the serious egos of filmmakers, and the sensitivity they feel to criticism. To see directors — like Woody Allen, featured — talk about their respect for Kael, even if she hated some of their films, is profound.
This is a wonderful documentary, and one that serves Kael well. One gets the feeling What She Said, though it may not be contain the most popular opinions, will always be remembered and respected.