Review of Mank

Mank (2020)
Cineastes will love it.
14 December 2020
I'm sure "Mank" will find an audience among cineastes, especially those who love movies about the movies but despite all the craft on display I doubt very much if this will set the box-office on fire, (though David Fincher aficionados might give it a go out of curiosity). Mank, (not a good title, by the way), is Herman J. Mankiewicz, co-writer with Orson Welles, of "Citizen Kane", and this movie, written by Fincher's father, Jack, some years ago, posits the idea that the screenplay of "...Kane" was written by Mankiewicz and Mankiewicz alone.

This is a movie strong on name-dropping, (we are told who everyone is as soon as they appear), and it's definitely smart and, thanks to Erik Messerschmidt's stunning black and white cinematography, it looks incredible but it also has a strip-cartoon like quality giving it the feel of a potted history of Hollywood at a time when MGM had more stars than there were in the heavens. It is, in other words, a niche movie for a niche market.

Mank is Gary Oldman, (excellent in an Oscar-bait performance). Welles is British actor Tom Burke, a splendid Charles Dance is William Randolph Hearst and Amanda Seyfried is an outstanding Marion Davies and there are scenes in the movie as good as anything you will see this year. It's also very good on the 'Hearst is Kane' idea and if we have to have gossipy show-biz biopics then we can't complain if they all look and sound as good as "Mank". This is the kind of film, come Oscar time, I'm sure the Academy will honour in a self-congratulatory frame of mind as if finally honouring "Citizen Kane" itself. It may not be Fincher's masterpiece but it just might be the one that will finally win him that little gold-plated man we call Oscar.
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