With a screenplay by his late father Jack, this movie rivals Director David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010).
Marvelously cast as it recreates Hollywood in the 1930-40’s, Mank joins The Trial of the Chicago 7 as the best film of this miserable year. While the movie theater industry looks to be slowly choking to death, Mank is a reminder of why movie lovers like me still find joy in a dark theater.
Gary Oldman shines as Herman J. Mankiewicz, the legendary alcoholic screenwriter fighting demons as he tries to complete the script for Citizen Kane. The movie starred Orson Welles, here by played by Tom Burke, as he recreates the rise and fall of the newspaper Tycoon William Randolph Hearst.
Hearst was still alive during this time, and his long-standing affair with the movie starlet Marion Davies takes center stage. Amanda Seyfried plays the Hollywood Harlot with no shame, and she knows that sex is often the key to success in old Hollywood.
This is especially true when you watch several scenes at Hearst’s legendary castle on a mountain at St. Simeon. Monica and I toured it several years ago, and you are reminded of the many Hollywood celebrities who flocked there to both eat in the great dining room and enjoy the many wild animals kept on the property.
Despite a rather slow beginning as noted by my friend Dr. Bill Kleinman, this film belongs to Gary Oldman. He will challenge again for an Oscar following his award for playing Churchill in Darkest Hour (2017).
Frequently forced to work in bed following alcoholic relapses, he is thankfully tended by Rita Alexander, a reluctant employee. Lily Collins gives a memorable performance in this role, playing a woman haunted by news that her husband is missing after being shot down in W.W.II. In addition, Oldman wrestles with Hollywood legends Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard), David O. Selznick (Toby Moore) and Irving Thalberg (Ferdinand Kingsley) to complete his work.
Though Welles doesn’t hide his dissatisfaction with the script, Mankiewicz ability to survive is owed to his neglected wife Sara. Played with an emotional force by Tuppence Middleton, she was always there for support when needed.
I’m glad that Dr. Kleinman and I took masks and hand wash to see this memorable film at Keystone Arts here in Indy. Only 6 people in the theater, so we escaped healthy.
Now how many of you remember the meaning of the immortal term “Rosebud” from Citizen Kane?