Dark Waters

February 28, 2020

Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

… likeable not only for what it includes but for what it excludes: excessive swelling strings, histrionic speeches and ‘redemptive’ messages.
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Dark Waters

Mark Demetrius
Year: 2020
Rating: M
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast:

Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, Bill Pullman

Distributor: Universal
Released: March 5, 2020
Running Time: 127 minutes
Worth: $15.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

… likeable not only for what it includes but for what it excludes: excessive swelling strings, histrionic speeches and ‘redemptive’ messages.

Mark Ruffalo plays a corporate defense lawyer (Rob Bilott) here, in other words the precise opposite of the sort of person who would normally go in to bat for the little guy’ against a huge environmentally vandalistic company. Yet that is precisely what happens in this true story.

The tale of horrifying conduct, rampant dishonesty and the long struggle to expose them begins in Parkersburg West Virginia – Bilott’s home town – in 1975, and the rather labyrinthine ‘plot’ unfolds over a subsequent period of decades. Basically, it’s all about the scandalous behaviour of the Dupont chemical company, involving massive-scale dumping of landfill containing sky-high levels of the man-made chemicals used to make Teflon. And the nastiness doesn’t stop there.

Bilott is first alerted that something is amiss by some understandably furious and distressed Parkersburg residents who eventually contact him at his workplace in Cincinnati. Their animals are getting sick and dying prematurely, and we soon discover that this is the thin end of a wedge leading to some truly ghastly consequences, both human and ecological. Bilott is initially reluctant to get involved but, of course, he does… It should all be gripping but somehow isn’t particularly so for quite a while, though the level of tension does eventually ratchet up.  Ruffalo’s performance is fine, and Tim Robbins is very good as his boss, Tom Terp.

Dark Waters is likeable not only for what it includes but for what it excludes: excessive swelling strings, histrionic speeches and ‘redemptive’ messages. This leaves it a bit workmanlike and plodding, and feeling somewhat overlong. But those are all lesser evils.

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