Review: ‘Scoop’

The Interview That Took Down Prince Andrew Gets The Netflix Treatment

Scoop is the third film in five years that tackles some aspect of the #MeToo movement through a journalistic lens. The first was Bombshell which dove into the perpetual culture of sexual harassment and abuse by Roger Ailes and at FOX News. She Said followed suit focusing on the New York Times investigation into the Harvey Weinstein allegations. It was only a matter of time before Prince Andrew and his dealings with Jeffrey Epstein received the same treatment. 

Produced by Netflix and directed by Philip Martin, a frequent director on The Crown, Scoop follows the BBC program Newsnight as they faced layoffs in 2019. Worried about losing her job, booker Sam McAlister struggles to find pivotal stories that drive viewership. When she stumbles upon photos of Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) walking through Central Park with Jeffrey Epstein, she starts to follow threads that lead her to a bigger story. This is only helped when the FBI raids Epstein’s home and releases photos of his royal highness with an underaged girl and Ghislaine Maxwell. 

Roping in producers Esme Wren (Romola Garai) and Stewart Maclean (Richard Goulding) and anchor Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson), Sam uses her connection with Prince Andrew’s private secretary, Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes) to persuade his camp to do an inclusive interview on his relationship with Epstein. 

The film is fairly straightforward from there on out and many moments from that now-infamous Newsnight interview are recreated, beat by beat, facial expression by facial expression. What makes this film so compelling isn’t necessarily the story itself but the performances it rides on. Gillian Anderson, once again, transforms into Emily Maitlis. Her ability to develop a fictional presence for a real-life person is incredible to watch even when the focus isn’t on her. Rufus Sewell depicts Prince Andrew as a “Mummy-obsessed” child, a Peter-pan with immense power. Billie Piper’s Sam drives the action and she does a brilliant job riding the line between a powerful feisty go-getter and a woman insecure about her place at her job. 

Martin’s direction and Peter Moffat and Geoff Bussetil’s script (based on Sam McAlister’s memoir) lacks real tension and grit as they fully focus on the investigation and not the lies and facade perpetuated by the Royal family for years. Instead of getting the story out of witnesses and wronged parties, they are negotiating interview terms with an over-privileged manchild. 

At the beginning of this review, I mentioned Bombshell and She Said. The difference between them and Scoop, besides the obvious British/American setting change, is that the latter doesn’t show the victims. There’s not a true human component for the audience to latch onto. While the fallout of the interview resulted in the Prince being stripped of his titles and relieved of his duties, the film doesn’t make an emotional case for why this particular story deserves an adaption made about it.

Scoop is available on Netflix now. Watch the trailer below.

Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
review-scoopPowerful and masterful performances from Billie Piper and Gillian Anderson elevate this pedestrian news drama.