Just a few months ago, some of the claims Rose McGowan makes in her new memoir would have been hard to believe, said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. The book is at times “wild and a little unhinged,” but we now know it has reason to be. McGowan, a film and TV actress, really was pursued by Israeli spies in 2016 after she began hinting online that she might reveal how she was once sexually assaulted by a still powerful studio chief. When Harvey Weinstein was finally exposed this fall as a serial sexual predator, McGowan emerged as arguably the most strident of his scores of accusers, and now she’s written a book that paints Hollywood as a place where young women are regularly abused by men who then cast them as nutty. Reading it, “I kept thinking about how many more women must be written off as crazy, and crushed under the weight of secrets no one wants to hear.”
McGowan devotes one chapter to Weinstein, and “she does not hold back,” said Amy Kaufman in the Los Angeles Times. She details the setting (a hotel suite), the time (the 1997 Sundance Film Festival), and how Weinstein lured her to a morning business meeting, then forced himself on her. Already her life had been traumatic. The daughter of cult members and a former runaway, she was first groped on a movie set at 14, and again when she landed her first lead role. Her long-term relationships have often brought her sorrow, too. She claims she was abused by director Robert Rodriguez while they were together and that he forced her to relive the Weinstein encounter for 2007’s Grindhouse, a movie that was sold to the Weinstein Co.
“In truth, the book doesn’t function well as a memoir,” said Joanna Weiss in The Boston Globe. That said, it “works beautifully as a manifesto”—a tirade against the damage the Hollywood image machine does to women. McGowan, as a product of the system, is “especially suited to send this message.” The 44-year-old despises the movie industry so much that she’s not interested in just chasing out a few bad actors. “Brave has a different goal: to burn the whole thing down.”