As 2020 comes toward its horrific end, the thought of a new movie release is still a strange sensation. With recent lockdowns putting the cinemas back to sleep again for a short amount of time, our eyes turn to our streaming services more than ever. And incredibly, awards season is well and truly here. ‘Mank’, the new directorial effort by veteran filmmaker David Fincher is the leading horse in what will be a very different awards season. Set around the life of Herman J. Mankiewicz or to his friends, Mank, the Hollywood screenwriter was well known for his screenplay for Orson Welles’ ‘Citizen Kane’. ‘Mank’ focuses mainly on how ‘Citizen Kane’ was written and all of the pressure and personal turmoil’s that he had to endure to get his name on the credits of the film.
Director David Fincher is well known for his thriller/drama hits like ‘Seven’, ‘Fight Club’ and ‘The Social Network’. With his new film, it shines a different light that we may not have experienced before. His new effort has the Oscar feels to it. Highlighting the life of an acclaimed writer and showcasing the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930’s and 1940’s. We associate grittiness, dark shots and shock horror moments in David Fincher movies. This is a big veer away from the typical Fincher movie that you would come to expect. Due to this, we were obviously disappointed but this was to be expected. Even in the trailer, it was clear this wasn’t going to be another ‘Gone Girl’ or ‘Panic Room’, what this is though, is an example of the versatility of one of America’s most unappreciated directors of his generation.
Even though ‘Mank’ is vastly different to Fincher’s other work, his ability to bring out an exceptional leading performance continues. What better actor to ask to deliver a great performance than the legendary Gary Oldman. Not long ago, we were all celebrating his first Oscar win as Winston Churchill in ‘The Darkest Hour’, and we think this could deliver yet another Best Actor gong for the British actor. Just when you thought that once he got his first that maybe he would slip away into those straight to DVD action movies that no one ever gets round to seeing or even knows of its existence, Oldman surprises us yet again that he can keep going at the highest level. His portrayal of ‘Mank’ is so enjoyable. Even with all of his characteristic flaws of his alcoholism and erratic behaviour, he was a good man who had a good heart and was a damn great writer. Due to the characters underlying kindness, it makes you like him and want to succeed. Seeing Oldman tackle a character like this in such grace and what seems to be in an effortless fashion, it’s a damn sight different to his Oscar win of the ferocious and temper filled Winston Churchill performance. Surrounded by a fairly low-key cast with very little big names, Oldman has centre stage to dominate and that’s exactly what he does.
Apart from Gary Oldman’s performance, ‘Mank’ unfortunately as a whole, doesn’t get close to becoming one of our favourite Fincher movies. As a character piece movie, it’s great. But what we love the most about his previous work is his ability to bring tension and drama to a story that has you on the edge of our seats. Albeit, ‘Mank’ is definitely not that kind of film, but don’t go in expecting something along the lines of his previous pieces of work, because you will be very disappointed. As the film is solely about Mank and his journey as a screenwriter and tackling the story of ‘Citizen Kane’, you have to really judge it on Oldman’s performance. It’s a terrific one indeed but as mentioned above, the film itself isn’t one we would shout from the rooftops about.
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