The true story of Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz
during the time he was writing Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.
Directed by David Fincher
Written by Jack Fincher
Starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins,
Charles Dance, Tom Pelphrey, Arliss Howard, Sam Troughton,
Tom Burke, Tuppence Middleton, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Joseph Cross, Monika Gossmann
After the postponement or indefinite cancellation of nearly every 2020 film of note, Mank pretty much became the film I was most excited about for the year. That isn't to say I wasn't looking forward to it already. Gary Oldman and David Fincher together to tell the story of the development of Citizen Kane. Sign me up immediately. It's just that with the cinema landscape forced into a sudden and necessary change, streaming services have become film geeks' only source of new releases. I'm still not sure if that's a good or a bad thing, but I'm planning on making the best of it. And it continues with Mank, a brilliant biopic about brash screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, the man who wrote the greatest movie ever made.
Oldman delivers yet another career-defining performance as Mank, who is hired by Hollywood newcomer Orson Welles (Burke) to write a picture for him. Mank holes up in a cabin and cranks out the first draft of Citizen Kane, drawing from his own encounters with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Dance). The film is structured much like Kane was, with flashbacks throughout to give us more detail on Mank's life. He was a witty, immodest man who knew he was a genius and liked to prove it to people. On paper, he sounds insufferable, but Oldman makes him not only bearable, but likable. Fincher does an incredible job recreating Hollywood circa 1937-1942. His careful eye does this film wonders.
Early Hollywood was still figuring out the significance of motion pictures. Some people, like Mank, knew that movies were not a passing fad or a novelty. They meant something. Mank knew he had something with Kane and he fought to make sure people remembered who really wrote it, even when Welles threatened to sue him for breach of contract. His screenwriting genius is something to aspire to, and this film is well on its way to becoming a classic in its own right.