“Mank” Movie Review

by Cedric Wood
March 28, 2021

“Mank” is a bloated but brilliant take on the story of how Herman Mankowitz lived his life during and before he was tapped to write a script, seemingly about whatever he felt like writing. It turned out to be about the mega wealthy newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The movie that resulted was “Citizen Kane”, considering to be the greatest film of all time, or at least it was in the latter half of the 20th century.

The film was riveting and yet disappointing. It was supposed to be about the back story that led up to the making of Citizen Kane. But far too little was about the film development and far too much about politics of California in the 1930’s and the studio politics that were interwoven with them.

Mank was filmed in the style of the movies of the 1930’s, imitating Citizen Kane at every turn. Touches like showing ceilings, something not done before Citizen Kane. Although that was a nice touch throughout, the modern mind longed to be out of the cage of black and white and clipped, staccato delivery of lines. These complaints will rob the film of large box office numbers but they will endear the film to all those who love and feel cozy in the nostalgia of the Golden Era of Hollywood.

The most exciting scenes for me were the ones that were clearly filmed in the actual monstrous, gilded dining halls of Hearst Castle. I know because I recognized them from my own walk through them when I was there in 2018. The garden, the pool, it was all right there.

Do I recommend the film? Yes, if you don’t want to be left out of a great rendering of the glamour and style of Old Hollywood. But do I recommend it as a deeply felt movie going dream? No. It is too long and too bloated and loaded with inside information that is being dished out in snappy, cleverly worded, oblique lines.

3 stars

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