I should make it clear that I did not stop watching Mank the first go-around due to it being a bad movie. Mank is far from that. I believe it was a Friday night, and I most likely had more pressing matters to attend to (no doubt my Animal Crossing town) rather than watching a movie.
Mank, directed by David Fincher, follows Herman Mankiewicz, the writer for the film Citizen Kane, and how he came to write it. The movie also gives a glimpse into Hollywood's influence on American politics, and the repercussions of it. Mank stars Gary Oldman (Mankiewicz), Amanda Seyfried (Marion Davis), and Lily Collins (Rita Alexander). There is even a blink and you'll miss it scene of Bill Nye the Science Guy himself (Upton Sinclair)! The entire cast does a great job throughout the entire film, even those who have very small roles. Most notably out of the bunch, however, was Amanda Seyfried.
Seyfried gives her all in this film as Marion Davis, and it honestly shows. She is such a bright spot in what would be a somewhat dull movie, and her scene chemistry with Gary Oldman is phenomenal. Gary Oldman does an excellent job as Mankiewicz, especially considering Oldman is 62 and Mankiewicz was 33. However, sometimes his character bounced from sober to drunk in almost every other scene, making it relatively difficult to tell whether he was drunk or sober in some scenes. But I digress. The acting was phenomenal.
I feel, however, that this movie was held back from its true potential. The film is in black in white to fit the classic noir film standard that was around in the 40s, however, it doesn't quite stick the landing due to the camera movement and quality. Some of the camera movements are not from that era, making some scenes look either very 40s, or very today. As well, the camera quality, bear with me on this one, is too crisp. In some shots, Fincher tries to add some film that is smudged, but this is honestly forgettable DUE to the camera quality. In the 1940s, the camera quality was a bit fuzzy, and I feel that Fincher missed the mark on that one. I felt as though I was watching Malcom and Marie rather than a 1940s film. There are shots that are a bit oddly placed as well, but they can be overlooked if you pay attention to what is happening in the scene.
The costumes and set design throughout this movie, on the other hand, hit it out of the park every time. A favorite of mine is Seyfried's outfit in her final scene at a dining table. The costumes, cars, and sets all really capture the mysticality of Hollywood, but I found myself not being able to enjoy them as much due to trying to pay attention to the racing plot. This was actually a worry I had when I sat down to write this article, and one of the reasons I stopped watching this movie the first time: How am I going to explain the plot? I paid extra close attention this go around, and I found that it was still difficult to follow along with, but maybe I'm not 'intelligent' enough to understand it (At the risk of sounding snotty, I doubt it).
Overall, Mank is a film that looks like the 40s but lacks the needed ingredients to feel like the 40s. But hey, if you're looking for a 1940s themed film with a heavy plot, Mank may be the film for you. If not, and you still want the 1940s aesthetic, I would recommend watching Casablanca. I think Citizen Kane is a bit overrated anyway. Rating: 7/10