Welcome back fellow readers to another online film review of Cinema Perception. In this review, I will be discussing Netflix’s 2020 film, “Mank.” For those that love classical films and the thrill of drama, this is the film for you.
Starring Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz, the film centralizes on how “Citizen Kane” came to existence through the mind of Mankiewicz. Upon appearance, I thought the title was about a comedic saying, but in actuality, it is a nickname that Mankiewicz used during his time in Hollywood.
After seeing “Mank,” I noticed there were many positives. The first positive was the actual plot of the film. As someone who saw biographical films like “King’s Speech,” “Mank” presented a deeper look of the inside life of Hollywood during the mid-30s to the early-40s. Another positive that the film had is its lighting effect. Throughout the film, Mank is in a black-and-white setting to symbolize the past which captivated the viewer to speculate the grittiness of the times. The third positive was the actual mixture of drama and comedy. In one scene, I could not help but laugh at the behavior of Louis B. Mayer, played by Arliss Howard, as he describes how emotion drives the audience. In addition, the acting performance for each actor was truly astounding. Specifically, I found Oldman’s character quite impactful based on how he portrays drunkenness and his inner humanity to those around him. In my opinion, Mankiewicz is similar to that of Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce from the TV series “M.A.S.H” due to their taste in alcohol and constant problems with authority. Along with the character performance, the film itself did not cost me anything, since it was on Netflix. The last positive the film had is cinematography. Since the film centered on drama and dialogue, there were several front and reverse shots in the film to depict either character conflict or emotion which motivated the viewer to watch more.
Though “Mank” had many positives, there were a few drawbacks that I noticed throughout the film. In regard to pacing, the film significantly lacked this element in part due to several dialogue scenes. Also, there were several times where the film had to flashback in the past to reflect on Mankiewicz’s actions and who he was as a person. Though it was a good idea to have in the film, I personally believe that having two flashbacks would suffice than having several flashbacks throughout the film. The other issue the film had was the lack of soundtrack. In some scenes of conflict, there was instrumental music played in the background; however, there was no well-known artist that played lyrical music. Lastly, the film mostly lacked action scenes. Personally, having action scenes provides a deeper conflict between the protagonist and antagonist, but in watching “Mank,” the conflict I noticed was not from fists but on a war of words. Despite these issues I had with the film, “Mank” successfully grabbed my interest in watching more of Mankiewicz.
Overall, “Mank” was a major Netflix film that provided enormous potential on cinematography, plot, characters and genre. Based on these qualities, I would rate this film a four out of five stars for originality and classic quality. If any viewer wants to see more of Gary Oldman, I recommend watching “The Sting” and “The Darkest Hour.” ‘Till next issue, this is Nicholas Bartelmo signing off from Cinematic Perception.
Nicholas Bartelmo is a fourth-year history major.