The true story of corporate attorney Rob Bilott, who took American
chemical giant DuPont to court for decades of unlawful toxic pollution.
Dark Waters (2019)
Directed by Todd Haynes
Written by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Bill Pullman, Bruce Cromer, Kevin Crowley
Based on the article "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's
Worst Nightmare" by Nathaniel Rich
Mark Ruffalo has slowly become the face of what I once heard described as the "They Knew!" subgenre of biographical films. With Spotlight and this film, he's been typecast as the investigator with a heart of gold who refuses to let monsters get away with causing decades of pain to innocent people. In this case, the monsters are the scientists and corporate fat cats at American chemical giant DuPont, who knowingly polluted the water supply of Parkersburg, West Virginia, causing countless birth defects, cancers, and deaths. Then, with their miracle compound Teflon, knowingly poisoned nearly the entire world, leading to even more death. In fact, every living being on the planet has a bit of the C-8 compound inside of them, including you and me. You can thank DuPont for that, and this film does a phenomenal job of ensuring their negligence is immortalized.
In 1998, attorney Rob Bilott is approached by farmer Wilbur Tennant (Camp), who claims industrial runoff has been killing his cows. In his investigation, Rob uncovers decades of negligence by DuPont that has led to an entire town's health's decline. He spends the next decade fighting to ensure DuPont doesn't get away with it, and there are times during the film where you start to think there is no justice. The very fact that possibly millions of people were exposed to toxic chemicals and killed is horrifying. Ruffalo delivers a committed performance that clearly hits a lot of personal notes for the actor, who is a proud environmentalist himself.
Dark Waters takes a personal touch to a film that spans years and covers a lot of different stories of people who were hurt by this case. I think that makes the film a standout, as it makes you consider what you would do if you were in their shoes. Dark Waters didn't make much of a splash when it came out, but it's a very good movie that deserves more attention.