By Jim Tortolano
How do you make a great film about the making of a historically great motion picture that hardly anyone under the age of 60 remembers?
Well, start with a great principal actor like Gary Oldman, have him work from an articulate and interesting screenplay from Jack Fincher, have it filmed in gorgeous, luminous black-and-white and directed by David Fincher.
The story – like the original screenplay for “Kane” – jumps around in time, artfully revealing the tortured path of the man and the film, both of which have to overcome too much liquor, not enough time, hard-knuckle politics and the not-inconsiderable opposition of William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper giant about to be unfavorably portrayed in the film.
There are many fine performances in this film, led by Oldman, but the one that really stands out is Amanda Seyfried, as Marion Davies, Hearst’s low-talent, but engagingly honest paramour. The image we have from “Kane” of her as an empty-headed showgirl is discarded here, and she emerges as one of the few in the film who sees things clearly and with a kind of likably cynical integrity.
This is an uncommonly intelligent and thought-provoking movie. The only criticism that can fairly be made of the film is that unless you know something about “Kane” and Hearst and Orson Welles (ably played by Tom Burke) you may feel a little lost or even bored by the “inside baseball” nature of this story.
That aside, “Mank” is one the rare recent films that is a treat for the eyes as well as the mind. It may not get a lot of views, but it deserves a lot of praise.
“Mank” is rated R for language, alcohol use, smoking and some adult themes.
Categories: Arts & Leisure