Mank (2020) - Fincher's unflinching love letter to Old Hollywood
Shot in Black and White and premiering on Netflix this weekend, "Mank" picks up steam once it gets going.
This film captures Old Hollywood of the 1930s and 40s. In fact, the film does this so well, you will forget it is a period piece around halfway through the movie. The story becomes more interesting around this point, especially if you know of "Citizen Kane" and Orson Welles, as you can't help but fill in the missing pieces. While "Citizen Kane" is about William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies (played excellently by Charles Dance and Amanda Seyfried) "Mank" takes us on the journey of the brutally honest writer Herman Mankiewicz played by Gary Oldman. Oldman gives us another brilliant performance. As Herman Mankiewicz spirals out of control mainly due to his alcohol dependency and his unwillingness to compromise, we really understand Oldman's character's inner thoughts and his contempt for the people in power who surround him. This puts him at odds with everyone powerful throughout the movie, even if they try at first to befriend him. The political subplot is a nice added dimension to Oldman's character and the story as we start to believe his convictions are truly warranted. Oldman emotes and lashes out as "Mank" but never overplays his character. And we feel like we are witnessing him in the flesh try to pick up the pieces each time he makes a spectacle of himself. Surrounded with an exceptional cast, Oldman brings us a very memorable character in "Mank", one that we weren't sure at first if we would root for. David Fincher, who directs, brings his late father's script to life and treats us to an in-depth look of Old Hollywood power and the strings it weaves.
Fincher who is known for dark films such as "Se7en", "Zodiac", "Gone Girl" and "Fight Club", subtly moves a grown up audience without the use of a character who is a psychopath or sociopath. But rather a powerful narcissist.