“Mank” Review

Story posted December 10, 2020 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Emily McGlynn

The common perception of Hollywood is glamorous, money-filled, and everything anyone could ever dream of. In David Fincher’s new Netflix film “Mank,” the director completely debunks that stereotype.

After being away for five years, Fincher is back with another classic movie with lots to think about. He is known for his drama/thriller movies, such as “Fight Club,” “Se7en,” “The Social Network” and more.

Fincher knows how to direct and edit movies to sometimes mask the deeper meanings throughout his films. Nonetheless, many are left in awe with what they just saw.

Mank is short for Mankiewicz. Herman J. Mankiewicz. A screenwriter, drama critic and overall movie-lover he was. He is notoriously known for writing the screenplay for the 1941 film, “Citizen Kane.” Many do not know this, but he also lent a helping hand in writing the screenplay for “The Wizard of Oz.”

Through Mank’s witty and alcoholic eyes, we watch the not-so-pureness of Hollywood, California in the 1930s, as the screenwriter and collaborator Orson Wells race to finish writing “Citizen Kane.”

In just 60 days, the masterpiece was written. Mank, through the process, is in a cast after a car accident and unable to type. Curious Rita Alexander assists in typing for him, while he’s also having flashbacks of how he got where he is.

The cast is unbelievable. Lily Collins, Gary Oldman, Tom Burke, Amanda Seyfried, and many other amazing, talented actors brought 1930s Hollywood alive. Many have positively commented on Oldman’s performance as Mank.

Mankiewicz was 33 when he wrote “Citizen Kane,” Oldman is double the age. The actor has always been able to connect with the camera and display his character’s emotions and intentions.

Lily Collins especially stood out. She has a kind of grace to her that many other actresses do not have, it cannot be explained.
The cinematography is quite unique and genius.

Before watching the movie, some were expecting a modern take on Mank’s life.

That is not the case. Fincher directed and filmed it like a 1930’s television show or movie. It’s in black and white, occasional film splotches appear, and everything happens fast.

There is a possibility he edited the actors’ voices to make them sound how they did in that time period. This aspect is something many will enjoy, in the technological, crisp 2020. Kudos to Erik Messerschmidt.

During the 1930s, many things were uncertain. Because of the Great Depression, money is tight, and politics are tense, and hearing of this “Hitler guy” and the Nazis does not make it any better.

It’s an interesting perspective to see big Hollywood people talking about those subjects.

Those who payed close attention to everything said in the movie, might have some questions. Why is Mank an alcoholic?

Why did David Fincher want to make this movie and why did he focus it on Mank? The screenwriting is descriptive yet mysterious. Answers are not directly given.

This is especially frustrating when this movie is 2 hours and 11 minutes long.

Many if not all people are going to like this movie. The creativity of the cinematography, screenwriting, and idea are astonishing.

Some might phase in and out because of the length, but the topics and details are important.

Rating: 4/5 

Emily McGlynn is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, email at esm5378@psu.edu.