Mank on Netflix, with Gary Oldman: David Fincher’s evocative drama is about a crisis of conscience

Posted on December 4, 2020


This isn’t really about the authorship of ‘Citizen Kane’ or even a “biography” of its writer Herman Mankiewicz. Gary Oldman leaves us with one hell of an impression.

Spoilers ahead…

David Fincher’s Mank is about the man most famous today for having written (or co-written, depending on what you choose to believe) Citizen Kane — and the most fascinating aspect of the film is how little it concerns itself with Citizen Kane. This is not about a convalescent man (an alcoholic, a gambler) wrestling with his inner demons while writing a screenplay. (“Why do you put up with me,” he keeps asking his wife.) This is not about a Hollywood screenwriter battling it out with a “boy wonder” director. (Tom Burke plays Orson Welles, and the voice, the intonations are perfect.) The scene settings are typed out like in an actual script (“EXT: Victorville”), and we do get a few “this real-life incident might have led to that scene in the movie” parallels — the production of a “fake” newsreel, a moonlit stroll through the grounds of an estate with an actual zoo — but Mank isn’t about the creative process, either.

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