Score : 83/100
Watchable Minutes : All of ’em. There isn’t a wasted minute in this movie.
Trailer Comparison : The trailer for Mank is decent. No matter what you think about Netflix originals, they can cut a good trailer that gives you the general vibe of the movie. It doesn’t give away too much and presents enough information to get you interested.
Movie or Film : Mank is definitely a movie, not a film. It tells a version of the origin story for one of Hollywood’s greatest productions. It’s stylish and funny. However, it doesn’t have that overarching message that fits in nicely with the narrative. It entertained me and made me feel nostalgic about a time that I never came close to experiencing.
- Run Time : 131 minutes
- Studio : Netflix
- Director : David Fincher
- Where to Watch : Netflix
Set in the Great Depression, Mank follows the writing process of Herman J “Mank” Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he recovers from a broken leg. Accompanied by his wife and assistant, Mank traverses around Hollywood backlots, writers rooms, and dinner parties delivering puns and drunken quips galore. Clashing with studio execs and the film industries largest icons, Mank delivers the story of how one of the greatest films of all time came to be.
Mank is an impressive movie. I respect David Fincher for releasing a highly stylized black and white movie in the 2020s. It’s is full of easter eggs and details galore that make it a delight to watch if you’re a movie nerd. The movie played great on my 4k display but it’s a shame I didn’t get to see it in theaters, as I prefer that movie experience hands down.
Visually, Mank has all the quirks of the traditional black and white movie. I noticed some film grain texture and burn in marks throughout the movie to make it feel more at home in it’s 1930’s time frame. The attention to detail on the little things made this movie feel authentic. This may not be the case, but the sound design felt as if they were recreating shooting on old period accurate soundstages. Whenever I watch other black and white movies from the same era, I always felt like there was a slight echo and that was the case with Mank. There were a few moments where Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried were delivering lines outside in a pavilion and it almost sounded like there was an echo in the upper rafters of their set. There were times where the audio was hard to follow and the dialogue was delivered so quick that I couldn’t quite hear it. I took a few points off for those two issues.
Gary Oldman delivered an incredible performance as Mank. He was funny, played well off of his castmates and didn’t overdo the drunken episodes. Everything felt balanced and authentic. The other performance worth mentioning is the one given by Charles Dance. His impressive portrayal of William R. Hearst fills his scenes with the same grandeur and commanding presence that Kane posses in Citizen Kane. In charge of portraying Orson Welles was Tom Burke. Welles doesn’t make too many appearances throughout the film, but when he does Burke does a fine job portraying him. The rest of the cast does a good job supporting Oldman throughout his escapades and helps push the story along without falling flat. I felt there was room for a bit more from some of them, removing a few more points from the score. The master class direction by Fincher is prevalent in every scene and kept the movie moving along.
Punctuated with visits from Welles, Mank spends considerable time jumping around the decade to show where the inspiration for Citizen Kane originates. These flashbacks show Mank and his usual habits of drinking, gambling, or making fun of his associates all across California. While a bit confusing to follow and keep track of, it is a not impossible if you put in some effort. I don’t consider this to be a huge issue, but it does remove a few more points. It’s not an easily accessible movie because it relies on some background knowledge of the film industry and it’s history.
Overall, I think Mank is a fun movie to watch and is a break from the typical Netflix original movies that we are used to. Give it a watch and let me know what you think!
If you like this, check out :
- Citizen Kane
- Hail! Caesar
- The Controversy behind David Fincher’s Mank
One reply on “Mank”
[…] MANK was the first movie I ever reviewed on this site so it has a special place on this list. I think it was incredibly bold to release a movie in 2020 in full black and white. The color palette enhanced the movie and made it easier to accept the timeframe of the movie. If things seemed odd or the dialogue was weird, you could both see and feel that it was because of the setting of MANK. I don’t think that MANK would have suffered were it in color, but you can read more of my thoughts on it here. […]