Mank ★★★½

"Are you familiar with the parable of the organ grinder’s money?"

Brims with a peculiar, frequently chaotic attitude, especially for a Fincher production. Taken in its entirety, Mank isn’t greater than the sum of its parts. Bar a few exceptions, the individual elements here, from the wardrobe and art direction to the excellent performances and score, amount to a handsomely produced effort where the moment-to-moment beats regularly entertain. Oldman as the titular writer is our lively window into this monochromatic world and its subjects, boozily guiding us behind the scenes of matters personal, professional, and political. But in terms of the film's conductor(s), both on the page and screen, there’s a dissonance that grips Fincher’s vision, underscoring the director’s alienating artistic decisions—particularly in regards to homage and Erik Messerschmidt’s cinematography—as well as his inability to effectively wrangle his late father’s overwrought and surprisingly distant screenplay. A number of moments do connect, and successfully so, notably in the third act once the narrative’s themes and purpose really spark. I just wish that the same could be said for the first half of the experience, even if the sequences at hand are rather intoxicating.

Disappointingly cluttered but appealingly dramatic. Definitely warrants an eventual rewatch through the lenses of authorship, creative intent, and the relationship between subject and artist.

"You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one."

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