Escape to the glitz and glamor of the golden age in Hollywood through the eyes of screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he races to finish the groundbreaking film, Citizen Kane, in David Fincher’s Mank.
Mank is fueled with nostalgia, transporting its viewers back into the chaotic world of old Hollywood. With brilliant acting, a witty yet meta screenplay, gorgeous score, and technically stunning aesthetic, this beautiful black and white film is certainly a cinephile’s dream and an Awards season darling.
At its core, Mank is film history come to life, which certainly caters itself to a niche audience.
Now, before I went into Mank, I revisited Citizen Kane. I highly recommend doing this not only because it is a fascinating film that set the stage for the future of cinema, but also, because it will help you appreciate the non-linear storytelling and intricate details of Mank far more. Mank’s style mirrors Citizen Kane in many different ways.
If you do go into Mank without having any knowledge about Citizen Kane or its controversial history, you may find the film’s narrative a bit strange, dry, and difficult to become invested in for at least, the first 30-40 minutes of the film. And this may be difficult for Netflix viewing audience members who have the tendency to get distracted or “bored”.
As John Houseman even shares with Mank, “you’re asking a lot of motion picture audiences.” Alienating audience members is certainly a risky decision on Fincher’s part, however, no one can deny the film’s old Hollywood charm, despite its darker political themes.
That’s movie magic, if you ask me.
The acting is brilliant across the board. Gary Oldman shines as the titular character and Amanda Seyfried disappears into her performance as Marion Davies. She is not only receiving Oscar buzz for this upcoming season, but it certainly is the start of a new chapter in her career. It is safe to say, Seyfried has come a long way since playing Karen from Mean Girls.
Now, I disagree with many critics who call Mank a “masterpiece”.
Fincher’s latest film is a commendable achievement in capturing a period of time and the creative process of filmmaking, but it surely is no Citizen Kane itself.
If one thing is certain, Mank establishes Fincher as one of the most talented and diverse actors of our time.
Final Thoughts: Marvelously crafted, Mank captures the magic of moviemaking and will have cinephiles rejoicing. But if you don’t want to do your homework before watching, chances are that Mank will be a miss for you.