Friday 4 December 2020

Mank (Movie Review)

Any film critic or enthusiast worth his or her salt probably already knows that Citizen Kane is regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time. But just in case you are uninitiated, the black-and-white classic was released all the way back in 1941, and would mark the feature film directorial debut of talented theater director, Orson Welles, who also starred in the leading role. Talk about making a good first impression.

The film had earned a total of 9 nominations at the 14th Academy Awards, going on to snag the award for Best Original Screenplay. But they'd been much debate about who actually wrote that screenplay. Mank is the story of that man, a biographical drama directed by a man who is no stranger to biographical dramas himself, David Fincher.

The film stars Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz, an American screenwriter tasked with coming up with a screenplay in just 60 days. This was mere days after he'd broken his leg in a car accident. Considered eccentric by most of his peers, he struggles with an alcohol dependence that has helped spur most of his notoriety. And with the deadline for the latest work fast approaching, he channels his past experiences as he comes up with his magnum opus.

Mank is both a biography and the story behind the writing of the screenplay to one of the greatest films of all time. As such, it takes a lot of inspiration from the work whose inception it is centered upon, including its striking black-and-white presentation which is evocative of the time period being depicted. The film paints a vivid picture of 1930s Hollywood, with a cinematography that not just mirrors the great Citizen Kane itself, but oftentimes rivals it in sheer mastery.

But perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Mank is the character of Mankiewicz himself, who was brought to life by Gary Oldman in yet another Oscar-worthy performance. We saw him literally transform into Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and here it is hard to imagine the actual Mankiwewicz being any different from his portrayal of the character. His co-stars also gave stellar performances, with Amanda Seyfried in particular being another standout.

Mank is without a doubt one of the better films we have gotten this year. It serves as a love letter to the 1930s Hollywood era of filmmaking. And much like The Disaster Artist, which had chronicled the making of a different type of noteworthy motion picture, this one also manages to reach unprecedented heights of its own.


  1. Yeah, don’t buy that Mank wrote Citizen Kane. That was Welles. I can believe Mank shaped the story with Welles, but that the shape itself was all Welles. The story is a pastiche of Hearst on the surface, but it’s actually more about Welles himself. The Hearst material is just window dressing. It’s an unfortunate continuation of Hollywood’s attempt to bury Welles to even suggest otherwise. Mank became a Hollywood institution, he and his family. Welles became an outsider. It’s somewhat ironic that Netflix has his film The Other Side of the Wind and now this to continue the strange tradition of not really knowing what to do with the legacy of sprain Welles...

    1. “Sprain Welles?” I don’t even know what autocorrect thinks sometimes. Orson Welles. Well.

    2. Lol. "Sprain Welles" is not a bad name actually.

      It's interesting that there is still this much debate about his amount of contribution to the script. But I think regardless of who wrote (most of) the script, there should be no debate about the talent of Orson Welles, with the manner he was able to bring that story to life. Especially considering the fact that it was his first feature film.