David Fincher’s Mank is the fastest slow-burn picture I have seen in some time. It follows screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz as he puts together the script for Citizen Kane, and recalling the events of his past that gave him his inspiration. I think it’s pretty necessary that you have seen Citizen Kane before you see this film (but you should certainly see Citizen Kane either way), and it won’t hurt if you have a very deep love for cinema. If you do, you are surely going to love Mank.
The look and sound of the film was more than welcome. The old-timey filmic glow and the tinny sound of old Hollywood pictures rings true. I am also quite glad to see that they didn’t revert to a tighter aspect ratio like many contemporary films are doing. It might have suffered without the grandeur of the sets being visible.
The use of the loglines was a little on-the-nose for my taste, but it was very helpful to have the flashback sequences denoted from the present day ones. It isn’t the first time David Fincher has jumped around in time will-nilly in his movies, but it sure is the kindest he’s been to us about it. The soundtrack was divine, exciting, and placed so neatly. It tightened and relieved tension in some very interesting ways and at some very interesting times.
Gary Oldman playing the titular Mankiewicz was just wonderful. He has such a talent for witty voicing and attitude, and he brought so much life to the character. This rides among Meantime, The Professional, and The Fifth Element for his best roles.
If you get the chance and feel interested, I highly recommend you watch this movie. It might not be for everyone, but it is sure to leave a mark in your book. For it’s clever writing and mastery of craft, I give Mank a four out of five.