An Ode to old Hollywood
Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) is an alcoholic screenwriter holed up in a remote cabin trying to finish the script for Citizen Kane. At the same time, we're told his decade earlier story through flashbacks.
David Fincher is one of my favorite directors and it's been six years since his last film. I had high hopes for this, I was willing to look past my dislike for contemporary black and white and how dull and washed out it often looks, but in the end. I felt the same way about Mank as I do about Citizen Kane.
I made it through this entire movie only really caring about one character, which was Amanda Seyfried's Marion Davies. I could've cared about Lily Collins' Rita Alexander, but she's barely in it. Seyfried on the other hand lit up the screen. She's the fun in a film that has none anywhere else. I had heard going in that she also had a small part, so she ended up being in the film more than I expected, and that was very welcomed. I was also pretty impressed with Tom Pelphrey playing Herman's brother Joseph. I thought he was abysmal in The Iron Fist so it's nice to see that he is capable of giving a good performance.
Like Citizen Kane, I feel this movie excels on a technical level, but lacks story wise. Mank doesn't really have a story while he's writing, it's all about the decade prior, and I started to get amused at how every scene change was clearly labeled "(flashback)" It's helpful, they didn't make any effort to make Oldman look younger than he does in the current timeline. Fincher manages to make the film sound like it was an older film. My husband hated this, I thought it was an interesting gimmick and I appreciate his attention to detail. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score sounds like generic 30's music, which I think the Academy will love but I found it kind of uninspired considering how beautiful some of their other work is.
Overall, Fincher clearly has a lot of love for old school filmmaking and he shows it well. This film is for those who love that, but the story isn't strong, the characters are very thin (How is Oldman in Oscar consideration for this? Can we please not do Darkest Hour again?) and I think I just expected too much from Fincher, especially coming after something like Gone Girl. It's not a bad movie by any means, and it's definitely not Fincher's worst, but it's just here.
Recommended: Yes, parts are will worth seeing, even though I likely sound very negative in this review.
Memorable Quote: "And I hope if it doesn't, you'll forgive me." - Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried)