‘Mank’ tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) and his experience writing Orson Welle’s masterpiece ‘Citizen Kane’. I would assume if you are reading this review, you have seen of or heard the name ‘Citizen Kane’ before, but may have assumed (like myself) that Orson Welles was the sole creator of what is considered to be the “perfect movie”. Director David Fincher brings into the spotlight the true author of Welles’s film in both a stylistic and beautiful way, with incredible writing and acting that proves that Fincher is one of the best directors alive today.
Taking place in 1941, Herman is a drunkard, gambler, and wise-cracker to boot. His career began with being a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and as a drama critic for The New York Times. Often Herman took no credit for his writing and touch ups of other’s screenplays, the film calling attention to this with his disdain for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as he’s being carried to bed after another late night binger. Herman’s story is told non-sequentially, with the main story taking place during Herman’s self isolation writing ‘Citizen Kane’. He is recovering from a car accident, in a makeshift medical bed with a leg sling to help prop him up during his dictation, being written by his partner Rita Alexander (Lily Collins). He’s been tasked with 60 days to write a full script for Orson Welles, and during that timeframe we are given flashbacks of the events, or one could possibly say consequences, that led to his current state.
I absolutely loved Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz and Oldman gives one of his best performances as Herman. There are great supporting characters as well in Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) Hermans brother Joeseph (Tom Pelphrey) his wife Sara (Tuppence Middleton) and the incredible Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst. Everyone was on their A game and deliver strong performances. The film is shot completely in black and white, with a 1940’s esthetique directed with love and attention by David Fincher. Fincher has gone to say that ‘Mank’ is his love project and was only able to do because of the willingness of Netflix to give him carte blanche of his creation. His work with Netflix on ‘Mindhunter’ surely paid off as he has signed a 4 year deal with Netflix that is already proving to be successful from both sides.
The writing of ‘Mank’, done by Jack Fincher is incredible. I’ve heard some call the writing over the top and I do not understand what they could’ve interpreted that from. The story is nuanced, and told in a non-linear fashion that worked really well for the overall pacing of the film. There is really no flaw in this movie which with David Fincher at the helm, you would be hard pressed to find. I will say that if you are going into this not understanding or viewing ‘Citizen Kane’ you may be lost to the weight of the story in ‘Mank’, so going into it keep that in mind that you should probably watch the film that ‘Mank’ is centered around.
Overall, I had a great time watching ‘Mank’. With fantastic directing and writing by both David and Jack Fincher, and an Oscar-Worthy performance from Gary Oldman, I would recommend seeing this for any lover of film, and preferably if you can on a big screen, keeping social distance or just buying a 100 inch tv for your home (trust me, I’m trying to get one myself)!