Review: Dark Waters

They knowingly poisoned people.

The true story of a corporate defense attorney, Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) who takes on a case from a farmer in West Virginia, Wilbur Tennant. (Bill Camp) Tennant claims a chemical company's dump near his land is poisoning his animals. This turns into Bilott taking on all of the powerful company DuPont and uncovering all their terrible secrets.

If you've been reading here for a while, you know I love movies like this. I love legal dramas. Anything that has a courtroom, a journalist, or whistle blowers leaking government documents always has my attention. This one in particular because I follow Mark Ruffalo on instagram and he's been talking about this film for a while. He clearly put his heart and soul into this and I don't blame him. It's a fascinating and frustrating story.

I found the film to be very engaging up until about the last half hour or so. I'm sure it's deliberate on director Tom Haynes' part. When you think we're nearly finished, Bilott hits a roadblock. Then another. Two decades span from the day he took Tennant's case until the final payout. The last half hour of this film is excruciating. It was a bit strange how much I wanted them to get to the point when I was happy to follow along with everything up until that point. It tests your patience. 

Ruffalo is great in the lead role. You can tell he really cares. The towering Tim Robbins playing his boss was a nice addition. I expected him to constantly be a hurdle for Bilott to jump over but he took his side even when he was wary about the whole process. Bill Camp gave the best performance as the very angry farmer. My biggest complaint was Bilott's wife Sarah, played by Anne Hathaway. She's a very solid actress but her character was an absolute mess and was regulated to long suffering wife. Her characterization was all over the place. Early in the movie, Bilott is freaked out on by the head of DuPont in a very public setting, yet somehow Sarah is mad at her husband. She continues to be mad at her husband even when he finally explains the point of the lawsuit. She complains about him never being there, but this movie is almost exclusively about the case so the level of anger thrown at him seems over the top. It's frustrating when this is the way the main female character was treated. They could've done better. Hathaway deserves better.

That frustrating aside, this is a solid film. Not as strong as The Report or Official Secrets have been this year, but certainly worth your time. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "You do that again and I'm going to cut your balls off and mail them to DuPont myself." - Tom Terp (Tim Robbins) 


  1. I love Mark Ruffalo and have been very curious about this movie. I might have to check it out!

  2. I want to see this mainly because it's Todd Haynes as I'm a fan of his work as I'm also eager to see what Mark Ruffalo would do.

    1. Ruffalo is great. I did prefer this to Hayne's last outing in Carol, though that film is prettier to look at.


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