Yo Ho, WeRCatz here!
Since it’s Oscar season, I’ve decided to take a look at Mank, starring Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz, or Mank for short. Mank follows Mankiewicz as he works on the screenplay for the future project Citizen Kane in 1939.
Like Citizen Kane, Mank jumps from present to flashbacks as we see a glimpse of Mank’s life: his friendship with actress Marion Davies (portrayed by Amanda Seyfried), Davies introducing Mank to her powerful lover and benefactor William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), the famous Hollywood parties Mank and his wife Sara (Tuppence Middleton) attend, Mank’s work ethic with booze and his working with Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard) of MGM (Mayer is the second M).
We also see how Mank starts breaking his friendships and working relations with Davies, Mayer, and others because of his alcohol abuse. Politics come into play as Mank fights the Hollywood powers and endorses famous author Upton Sinclair’s bid for governor of California in 1934; Sinclair lost to Republican Frank Merriam thanks to Mayer and Hearst’s powerful influence via yellow journalism and fake films. As an added bonus, Mank gets pressured to NOT finish Citizen Kane because of Hearst’s possible rage; in real life, Hearst blew a gasket and used his influence to make sure Citizen Kane didn’t end up successful at the time of its release.
Oldman provides a great performance as Mank while Seyfried also delivers as Marion Davies. The relationship between Davies and Mank is portrayed as symbiotic at first but then changes into its negation as Citizen Kane starts coming to life during the climactic dinner scene at Mayer’s birthday party.
This movie is a must-see but it does have its flaws. Those who don’t understand Citizen Kane’s format and style won’t understand Mank. Also, the slow burn of the golden age of Hollywood won’t hold enough attention to today’s audience and their modern version of the slow burn.
Mank is nominated in ten categories including Best Picture, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Actor (Oldman), Best Supporting Actress (Seyfried), and Best Original Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross).