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David Fincher Makes His Long Awaited Return – Mank Review

Editorial Credit: Editorial credit: Natata /

By Sam Watkins

“Mank” follows the alcoholic screenwriter of the film “Citizen Kane”, Herman J. Mankiewicz, as he reevaluates 1930s Hollywood and races to finish the script to Orson Welles’ film. It was directed by acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher, who has not released a film since “Gone Girl” in 2014. It stars Gary Oldman in the titular role, as well as Amanda Seyfried in a screen stealing performance as actress Marion Davies. The screenplay was written by David Fincher’s late father, Jack Fincher.

David Fincher’s black and white cinematography makes the film feel like a classic Hollywood production, while the use of digital cameras and modern lighting techniques still manages to make it feel fresh and new. The film also includes credits at the beginning like a classic Hollywood film would have, which was a nice touch. 

Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Mankiewicz is absolutely fantastic. He really brings Jack Fincher’s intelligent dialogue to life. As for Amanda Seyfried (who has certainly come a long way since “Mean Girls”), she manages to execute the dramatic dialogue written for her character while still maintaining a certain levity to her role.

The story itself was surprisingly insightful and political. While making his way through the Hollywood hierarchy and executive corruption, Mankiewicz finds himself criticizing socialism, communism and fascism. A side plot follows socialist author Upton Sinclair, portrayed by none other than Bill Nye, and his attempt at gaining a seat in the 1934 California gubernatorial election. The film drew various parallels between the political climate in 1930s California, and the political climate in our nation today.

While “Mank” has breathtaking performances and beautiful cinematography, it lacks a bit in pacing. It dragged quite a bit in the middle, and the cutting back and forth into flashbacks was clearly meant to pay homage to “Citizen Kane”, but at times it felt hard to follow. While I personally would consider this one of David Fincher’s weaker films, it is not bad by any means, and it’s great to see him back in the industry again.