This is the one film I have seen this year that I genuinely believe would have been a better experience had I seen it in a theatre.
Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Jack Fincher
Starring: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins
Genre: Biography, Comedy
Runtime: 131 Minutes
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by: Pearl
Mank captures the life of Herman Mankiewicz between 1933 and 1940, when America was in the midst of the Depression and watching the gathering clouds of World War II. There is another presence that Fincher does well to focus on in his telling of the making of Citizen Kane, the candidacy of Left-leaning Upton Sinclair for the governorship of California, which sees the tinsel town gang up against him. As Sinclair is portrayed as promoting “anti-American” values, with MGM lending its might to a campaign, Mank is forced to confront his own compromises and little lies. – From IMDB
Biographies are my favourite genre. I give some of my highest ratings to films marked as ‘Biography’. So I was sadly let down by how much I was disappointed by this film. Don’t light the pitchforks and torches just yet, by no means did I think that this was a bad film. But it could definitely have been oh so much better. Speaking from the purely technical side of things, this film was a masterpiece, managing to encapsulate perfectly that feeling of old Noir movies from the seconds the opening credits role. A lot of technical know-how went onto the making of this film right down to the consideration of how the colours of the costumes would show up in Black and White. And if you take the movie purely on those grounds then yes, it was a massive success.
But story wise and screenplay wise, I felt that it left a lot to be desired. The screenplay itself felt a bit clucky, not very engaging and just a bit dull really. Meaning that pverall the plot just didn’t keep my attention. I would focus back in properly every now and then to ohh and ahh at something on the screen, or to marvel at one of the performances, but I certainly wasn’t there because of the plot. The flashbacks were more exciting than what was happening in the present, and I almost never find that. I enjoyed the Hollywood politics aspect of the film a lot. But the rest of it just didn’t grab me that way I wanted.
The performances in the film, Particularly by Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried were of course spectacular. Although I felt Seyfried’s character Marion Davies could have had a lot more screen time, her presence was captivating. And of course there was no way that Gary Oldman was going to give us a poor performance here, even with my complaints about the material he had to work with, he still gives it his all and does it really, really well.
A disappointment for a film in my favourite genre, but not a total failure by any stretch of the imagination. Fans of Film making,, and Cinema History buffs will probably get a lot more out of it than I did.
‘Mank’ is streaming now on Netflix