Starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, Charles Dance
As the incredible wit and extraordinary brain of the writer behind Citizen Kane, Herman J. Mankiewicz is exposed, we are given an insight to the suffering that accompanies the stressful world of Hollywood. And within the eyes of alcoholism, we can see a great man's deterioration betwixt his climb to sobriety.
There is nowhere else to start but with Gary Oldman's exquisite performance. He is truly one of the greatest actors of our generation and here he encompasses the charm that Mank was so evidently known for. Between that though we see an anguish that is so subtle, but definitely present. I was however left reminded of his drunken guest appearances on the hit show Friends in the scenes showing an intoxicated Mank, perhaps a little caricatured.
"You cannot capture a man's entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one."
Amanda Seyfried also delivers a standout performance. She buzzes with likeable energy and this may be her strongest performance to date. Rita (Lily Collins) was the crutch that Mank needed and a balance in the film's more distressing scenes. And although Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst had a presence unlike any other, he was reduced to little more than a few distinguished looks down the end of his nose. He deserves more.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have created a marvellous score to escort this film's use of flashbacks and script-written subheadings. I did feel that this use of flashbacks left the plot's movement being a little uninventive however; I was never especially excited by the story and was more mesmerised by the characters. And yes this is a character study through and through but a plot was apparent, just missing a bit of pizazz. This lack of pizazz however was made up for in the stunning cinematography. Every single frame was brilliantly shot and excellently captured the era.
Intentions are truly met, as this has all the charm and grace of a black and white 1930's picture. Yet with the grit and decorum of the spectacular cast and leading man, it adds a nuance that we don't see enough of in modern day "talkies".
Mank available now on Netflix