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I was intrigued by Mank mainly because I’ve always had an interest in old Hollywood. Over the years I’ve researched a lot about classic Hollywood stars and about what it was like during the “golden age”. What I didn’t know about this film is that it’s not solely focused on old Hollywood and classic movie making, it’s also focused on politics and corruption.
While the film’s focuses are interesting in certain ways, I unfortunately wasn’t as invested in the overall plot as I feel I should have been. The plot just isn’t as juicy as I wanted it to be, BUT what this film goes above and beyond with is the cinematography and sound. Mank is kind of a mixed bag, so let’s jump into the details!
The story jumps back and forth in time telling a story about Herman Mankiewicz’s experiences in Hollywood and his effort to finish a screenplay in a limited amount of time. I didn’t care for the constant switching between the past and present to be honest, some films can do it really well but I felt that it hindered this story’s overall impact.
I would have preferred a film that just focused on Mank’s past experiences in old Hollywood and all the wild ups and downs that that entailed. Every time we had to flip back to him in bed in the present day I felt like the film lost steam. All the real energy of the film takes place in the flashback scenes. I liked the way this film analyzed the inner workings of the old Hollywood system, that is by far the most interesting thing happening here. Getting to see just how slimy the studio heads conducted themselves is the real meat of Mank. The other stuff like the Mank writing his screenplay in the present day just gets kind of tiresome and uninteresting.
While the overall plot is mixed leaning towards positive, the acting is all positive. Gary Oldman gives yet another fantastic performance as the films lead, Herman Mankiewicz. Oldman’s best scene is towards the end when he’s very inebriated at a Hollywood party and just unloads on the men in power for their abuses. It’s of course no shock that Oldman’s performance here is highly skilled, he’s a natural talent.
I was very excited to see Amanda Seyfried’s performance here because of all the talk about it and because of her Academy Award nomination. Seyfried does give a great performance here as Marion Davies, she brings a great sense of sassy witty old Hollywood glamour to her presence. I’m happy to see Seyfried get some recognition after all these years of acting and given the field of nominees we have for Best Supporting Actress this year, I think Seyfried deserves the gold.
Someone else that gives a very good performance here is Lily Collins, and she isn’t really getting a lot of praise for it which I think is strange. This may be the best performance from Collins yet.
While the acting is top notch here, the absolute best aspect of Mank is the technical side. The cinematography and sound within this film is simply astounding. The way they make this look and sound exactly like a classic black and white film is uncanny and so cool! The sound sounds exactly like you’ve just turned the TV to Turner Classic Movies and the same goes for the films look. The opening credits are done in the exact way that they used to be done back when this film takes place. David Fincher is a fantastic director – we’ve known that for a long time now – but this film really does cement that truth. The makeup and costume design is also pretty incredible too, especially when it comes to Amanda Seyfried. Seyfried looks incredible as Marion Davies.
Mank is a film that deserves praise for it’s stunning cinematography, sound, and acting. I wish that the script was as stunning as the other aspects of the film, but while the writing is a mixed bag there are still several scenes that are wonderfully written. I would suggest viewing this film for the technical aspects and the performances, just don’t expect it to the best film you’ve ever seen.
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