Herman J. Mackiewicz, also known as Mank, is bedridden after an accident, away from the plush of the city at North Verde Ranch and is given 90 days to complete a screenplay by Orson Welles who has been given unbated autonomy by RKO studious. With Mank totally wasted and alcoholic at the ranch, will he come up with one? Will he deliver on the only chance he has got for his survival?
Mank is a biographical drama based on the legendary screenwriter Herman J. Mackiewicz and the movie primarily focuses on the time period of his life between 1934-1940 when he started working for the powerful Metro Goldwyn Mayor (M.G.M Studio). A series of distressing experiences that took place at Louis B. Mayer’s M.G.M studio which went against his political, personal and professional beliefs compelled Herman to write a screenplay, which was later released in the form of a movie Citizen Kane. Released in 1941, Citizen Kane, came out strong and garnered huge praise for it’s storyline and characters. It also bagged the prestigious Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Everything went well for Herman except one, the lead character of Citizen Kane was inspired from William Randolph Hearst, a flamboyant businessman, newspaper publisher and politician who now happens to share close business ties with Louis B. Mayer‘s M.G.M studio he previously worked for.
Mank is a perfect example where anything you say and act in front of a writer can be used in his story. The final nail in the coffin for William was a parable for Mack after a washed away dinner night party at William Hearst’s palace that didn’t seem to go well with the writer. Thereby, Herman came up with a script that dismantled the reputation of the business tycoon William Randolph Hearst masterfully played by Charles Dance.
Jack Fincher, late father of director David Fincher, has extensively captured these moments of Herman at the rough North Verde Ranch going in and out of his ghastly memories over his 90-day deadline. The screenplay of this Hollywood classic Mank was written in 1990’s which only saw the day of light in 2019.
Director David Fincher has lived up to his reputation and delivered a stellar cinematic experience in black and white while portraying the struggle of Herman during the draft of his screenplay Citizen Kane at North Verde Ranch.
Mank is purely a character driven film and Gary Oldman as Herman has charmed the screen with his amazing performance. He has perfectly fitted himself in the shoes of Herman J. Mackiewicz and oh boy he deserves a recognition for his subtle and witty dialogue deliveries. Other noted performances are, Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies, Ferdinand Kingsley as Irving Thalberg, Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer have also earned their share of praise.
Special mention has to be given to the production design by Donald Garham Burt, cinematography by Erik Messerschmidt, edit by Kirk Baxter and Music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross who have left no stone unturned to give us the look alike visuals and essence of the late 1930’s- 40’s.
Mank is totally character driven with a water tight screenplay and direction. Mank shades light on the filthy business practices carried out in the era of classic studio domination and acts as a nostalgic re-visit of the classic Hollywood. Mank may not fascinate everyone but it will certainly cater to the lovers of old Hollywood classics. Highly recommended to watch.
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