David Fincher is back with his first feature film since 2014's Gone Girl. Considering his filmography (well apart from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button anyway...), any time he makes a movie it's always sure to be near the top of my most anticipated list. His examination of 1930's Hollywood in Mank was no exception.
Mank is all about old Hollywood screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) and the writing of his magnum opus, Citizen Kane. "Mank," as everyone calls him, is a washed up alcoholic who gets hired by a rising talent named Orson Welles. Bedridden with a broken leg, he's got two months to finish the script, so he brings in a young assistant to dictate his words (Lily Collins.) He bases Kane on a famous newspaper tycoon named William Randall Hurst (Charles Dance) with whom he had a cordial relationship with. Mank also had a close friendship with Hurst's mistress, actress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) and the film is mostly a series of flashbacks of his interactions with the pair that inspire the characters and story of Citizen Kane.
Mank is an old school Hollywood movie through and through. Fincher gets the look and feel of classic films from the 30's and 40's down pat. The editing and general storytelling master the techniques used of the time, making the film feel totally authentic (apart from some modern touches here and there such as the profanity.) In fact, it's almost crazy to think that this is the same director behind such modern fast paced films like The Social Network, Gone Girl and Se7en. Mank demands your full attention and its pacing requires a lot more patience. The film is very dialogue heavy delving deeply into politics from almost 100 years ago which makes it not a seamless fit for modern sensibilities that aren't used to classic cinema or the history surrounding it. As such, it isn't the most accessible film to general audiences. Gary Oldman turns in a really great performance as usual, but the real surprise here is Amanda Seyfried who gets absolutely lost in the role of Marion Davies. She undoubtedly gives the best performance of her career here and absolutely shines.