Title: Mank

Year: 2020

Genre: Biography | Comedy  | Drama |

Runtime: 131 min

Director:  David Fincher

Starring: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins


1930’s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane.

Fincher Struggles With The Authenticity Of The Past

David Fincher has merits himself with Fight Club, House of Cards, Gone Girl and Mindhunter.  And for the third time, he’s collaborating with Netflix with a biographical story about the screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who penned the script of Citizen Kane. Embedded with a meta-told story about the alcoholic screenwriter in monochromic black and white, Fincher struggles at some time to keep interested upheld throughout the film. With a runtime on 131 minutes, it tries to replicate the world of the 1930s and Hollywood, implementing the authority the studios had during their first years. With the B/W  treatment, much of the film is dissolved in darkness and at some points, there are flashbacks to deepen the story even further.

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Just as well, these moment feels rather forced upon and the cinematography keeps the narrative interesting. David Fincher has often chosen a good operator and DOP for his films. But the most part the film drags the film on its potential. The comedy makes the dialogue feels uplifting but drives away from the subject itself and makes everything unnecessary feels like a distraction. Amanda Seyfried makes a decent contribution to the story, nothing memorable or eye-capturing for her career. Lily Collins makes a decent performance as well but doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

However, it’s probably her most desired performance in her career. On the other hand, Gary Oldman becomes a safe card with the drunk, cynical screenwriter. He provides some elegance and depth in the character and it’s here the story that Fincher present struggles deeper. Even if we ‘e a backstory to the character, the presentation of this is forced just much everything else in the narrative, which Fincher is solemnly responsibly for.  The character Orson Welles is more like a shadow, a mirage in the background, that keep the forced plot forward, to some extent. And then we’ve got the storyline with the Nazis and how it complicates the storyline.

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Mank is divided into two parts that progressively intervene with each other; now present and the flashbacks. Oldman’s performance is the best part, as often. The direction is somewhat mellow and doesn’t bring something new to the table. It gives an intimate portrait on how Hollywood-studios ran during the 1930s and has the same structure that Hitchcock  (2012) had. In the end, this Netflix-produced film falls between the fingers and doesn’t deliver where needed even if the era of old Hollywood is intriguing.

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