Mank ★★★

Mank is a visual and technical delight to any fan of classic Hollywood filmmaking. The film not an entirely accurate recreation of the visual look of classic Hollywood films but with its stellar sound design and visuals it creates the precise illusion of a film from the 1930s. As I have been viewing more and more classic Hollywood films in the last year or so, I’ve become more and more familiar with the feeling of those films and Mank certainly captured that feeling for the most part. 

While the film attempts to bring its audience back to simpler times of old Hollywood, it creates trouble for its audience. Without a great understanding of the stars, writers, directors of Hollywood and how old Hollywood was ran it’s very easy to be asking yourself: “who is this? “what is this place?” “where are they?” especially since the film feels in a rush to get to the next scene. Mank rarely takes time to rest from its quick, witty dialogue(which can often cause the audience to lose track of what is happening) to achieve sufficient character work. By the halfway point in the film I was asking myself what I had learned about Mank and most of the information given to me had been very... surface level? 

Since Mank seemingly avoids so much crucial character work it often feels cold and lacking in personality despite a visual style dripping with a unique identity, the actual characters lack much personality to truly be three dimensional. Most supporting characters pop up a handful of times for a few minutes and are never given the proper time to properly establish them. Mank himself I found the deepest trouble with and a common complaint I found myself lined up with why tell his story? The writing of his character is not awful by any stretch, there’s plenty of good lines for Gary Oldman to work with but it never justified why Mank’s story was so necessary to tell.

Mank may fail on an emotional level for me, however, it does captivate me quite a bit in the political matters of that era. The exploration of how Hollywood influenced elections and the discourse around political figures is by far the most interesting topic Fincher explores in the film. The angle Fincher takes to demonstrate how filmmakers were able to influence opinions within the United States ultimately ends up being what I wish the entire film had been about. The political discourse heavily mirrors current events leading discourse in the United States and could have an opportunity to indirectly commentate on current day events.

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