If you want to see the year's most gripping detective story, head out to a theater near you that's playing "She Said" and watch a notorious sexual predator get his comeuppance.

The fact that the story is true adds to the impact as New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are assigned in 2017 to investigate just how infamous Oscar-winning mogul Harvey Weinstein managed to evade justice after decades of sexual assault and rape.

Based on the pair's 2019 book, "She Said" is not a documentary but a dramatization -- in the exciting, exacting tradition of "All the President's Men" and "Spotlight."

PHOTO: A scene from the movie "She Said."
Universal Pictures
A scene from the movie "She Said."

Just how did two diligent reporters, both working mothers, expose long-suppressed allegations of coercion, brutality and victim silencing, to spur a systemic #MeToo reckoning that extended far beyond Weinstein and Hollywood?

Weinstein, now serving a 23-year prison sentence, is not seen in "She Said" -- actor Mike Houston shows only the back of his head -- but recordings of his voice are used to chilling effect as he tries to evade prosecution through blatant bullying. "You know what I can do."

Carey Mulligan as Megan and Zoe Kazan as Jodi could not be better or more fully committed to their roles as dogged reporters who go where the story is no matter how reluctant their subjects are to speak on the record.

Director Maria Schrader ("Unorthodox"), working from a script by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, builds an atmosphere of near-unbearable tension as Weinstein and his enablers attempt to kill the story by using fear and threats that go from veiled to scarily overt.

Kantor and Twohey are also facing a ticking clock since Ronan Farrow is working on the same assignment at the New Yorker (all three reporters would ultimately share a Pulitzer prize for their public service in bringing these abuses of women to light).

Twohey had previously been stonewalled while scrutinizing accusations against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. In playing a woman experiencing postpartum depression, the outstanding Mulligan exudes a quiet tenacity that burns with purpose.

Ditto the excellent Kazan who shows the lengths Kantor had to go through in tracking down sources, even if it meant showing up unannounced at their homes in the hope that personal contact would help the accusers go public as a means of aiding other victims. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow was initially reluctant to speak except on background.

PHOTO: A scene from the movie "She Said."
Universal Pictures
A scene from the movie "She Said."

At the Times offices, Twohey and Kantor have the backing of two experienced editors -- Rebecca Corbett (a superb Patricia Clarkson) and Dean Baquet, played by Andre Braugher with the command that comes with his being named the newspaper's first Black executive editor. Hearing Baquet dismiss Weinstein's phone threats is deeply satisfying.

Actress Rose McGowan had previously gone public against Weinstein, only to find her accounts defused by blame-the-victim coverage. Ashley Judd, who appears as herself in the film, relates tales of harassment that she kept secret out of fear of being blackballed in the industry.

Former assistants to Weinstein took a cash payout to sign non-disclosure agreements that forbade them to talk about his demands for massages and other sexual intimacies that sent them running for cover, each time using his power as a boss to force compliance.

Jennifer Ehle and Samantha Morton brilliantly portray two of these women as they battle against abuses by Weinstein that are impossible to forget, much less forgive. Their defiance of silencing NDAs provides the film with a liberating, much needed sense of hope.

As a film, "She Said" suffers from repetitiveness, flagging pacing and a sense that the problem is too vast for easy closure. But in celebrating the fighting spirit of women who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, "She Said" is a vital validation that will pin you to your seat.