Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Movie with Abe: Dark Waters

Dark Waters
Directed by Todd Haynes
Released November 22, 2019

Mark Ruffalo discusses the film

There are many events in history worthy of cinematic treatment. Legal cases are particularly prone to adaptation because there is a certain quality that can be captured on screen as developments unravel and audiences discover facts along with the lawyers, plaintiffs, and defendants. In some instances, what actually happened is embellished and modified to such a degree that a straightforward documentary investigation feels like it might have been more appropriate. When events are portrayed in a more respectful and unflashy manner, a cinematic retelling with actors and a script does in fact work and can, most importantly, bring more attention to a subject that wouldn’t otherwise attract so many eyes.

Tim Robbins discusses the film

Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) is a corporate defense attorney in Columbus, Ohio who receives an unexpected visit from a West Virginia farmer, Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), who lives in the same town as his grandmother. While Rob initially turns him away since he is on the other side of the law, he realizes that Tennant’s claims that his animals have been exposed to deadly toxins must be true. Obtaining limited permission from a managing partner (Tim Robbins), Rob begins investigating and learns that there is much more at play, pitting him against DuPont, one of the most powerful chemical companies in the country.

Director Todd Haynes discusses the film

This premise is reminiscent of another case featured in a high-profile movie, “Erin Brockovich.” Here, Rob manages to start exposing wrongdoing in a company represented by his own firm, facing other hurdles, including the objections of his wife (Anne Hathaway) to his full immersion in work at all times, especially after many years of lackluster progress. This case is the definition of an ordeal, one that sought to have a high impact despite diminishing returns and the continued intimidation of any potential threats by wealthy giant DuPont.

The real Rob Bilott discusses the film

Ruffalo, an outspoken online liberal activist, has used the fame he has achieved from his role in “Avengers: Endgame” and other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to choose projects that matter to him, and he had a large part in getting this film made. His performance is straightforward and unglamorous, serving as the perfect stand-in for the audience, incredulously reacting to the unbelievable information he uncovers. Robbins, another famed liberal, makes the most of his appearance onscreen, proving to be an audience favorite. This doesn’t feel much like a Todd Haynes film, far more normative than past efforts such as “Far From Heaven,” “I’m Not There,” “Carol,” and “Wonderstruck,” but it’s a solid and effective film that does what it’s meant to by shining a bright light on something that those willfully abusing their power want to keep hidden.


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