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Mank (2020)

It’s the 1930’s, and Hollywood is still new. One man, Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman)–known to many as Mank aims to redefine the adolescent Hollywood as he attempts to draft a script for Citizen Kane. With great minds like Orson Welles (Tom Burke) hot on his tale, pressuring him to finish the screenplay as quickly as possible, he will have to reevaluate his passion for the art and the process by which he writes. This is the story of the world-renowned Citizen Kane and all the time and effort that went into developing it.

Mank was one of the nominees for the 2021 Academy Award for Best Picture, leading viewers to believe that they were in for a riveting journey about the development of Citizen Kane, one of the most highly regarded films in history. While viewers get somewhat of a deepdive into the development of Citizen Kane, Mank as a whole is quite difficult to get through. It’s boring, not much happens, and the visuals aren’t much to write home about.

I found myself questioning why Mank was even created at all, over and over again throughout the course of the film. The world loves Citizen Kane, but, honestly, who cares about Mankiewicz? He’s a convoluted man living within the confines of a convoluted story about developing a, let’s be honest, convoluted story about a billionaire publishing tycoon. The 1941 film is enough, and it feels, from the opening moments, that there’s no reason for Mank to have been made. However, had the film focused solely on the development of this aforementioned wondrous film, I may have been able to stay on board–but the seemingly constant shift throughout the narrative to the ideas of alcoholism and romance made me desperately feel the need to jump ship.

While this film came out in the year prior, Mank reminds me so much of Being the Ricardos. That ultimately means that it’s a boring film about another popular Hollywood entity. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and destroys the memory of the entity to which it is attached. While this may be viewed as a supplementary piece to Citizen Kane, it’s more likely to be viewed as a giant slayer, destroying its counterpart in more ways than one. Through all of the drab realities of Mank shines a bright light that gives viewers some semblance of hope–the acting. The world knows how brilliant Oldman is, and he is as brilliant as ever before in depicting the raging alcoholic. With him is a talented cast that supports him and allows him to shine. The acting is the one thing that I can get behind regarding Mank, and thank God it’s as incredible as it is, or the film would simply crumble.

Mank is boring. I was so bored while watching, in fact, that I know for sure that I missed important aspects of the plot. Some of the content sort of entered one ear and immediately left through the other. I had such high hopes for Mank–not just because it was nominated for an Academy Award in 2021, but because of its relationship with Citizen Kane, a film that many consider to be the best of all time. With the exception of the acting, however, I’m afraid that Mank fails to live up to those expectations. Through boring visuals, average cinematography, and a convoluted story about an uninteresting subject, Mank is simply a dud.

Written & Directed by David Fincher.

Starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, Arliss Howard, Tuppence Middleton, Monika Grossman, Joseph Cross, etc.




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