Note: This is a spoiler-free Dark Waters movie review
In today’s movie world superheroes and reboots impact an audience most. But there is something to be said about the real world and the influential stories that can and should grace Hollywood more often.
Although slow at the start, Dark Waters tells a powerful true story and drives home an important message by the end.
A Blow To Big Business
Mark Ruffalo plays attorney Robert Bilott, who gets unexpectedly drawn to a case against chemical giant Dupont. Draw turns to obsession as he fights for a West Virginia town and against a long history of mass pollution by the company.
The fact this is a true story becomes a driving force of relatability as the film develops. It’s a classic David vs Goliath tale, and in this case, you end up rooting for thousands of Davids. Dark Waters almost seems “too” Hollywood, but behind the strength of happening in the real world to these real people, the film evokes emotions of empathy and disdain that wouldn’t occur otherwise.
Dark Waters sheds light on a story that has been told in the media but is still not well known. It deserves to be on display, and the film makes a valient effort in bringing it to the big screen.
Slow At The Start
As far as the pacing goes, the movie is slow to start. It struggles to capture attention for the common moviegoer. As a result, some of the later scenes may fail to reach their full potential because attention is already lost.
In all fairness to the production team, it’s not easy to tell a story with as much legal jargon as this one. It’s easy to get mired in the monotonous yet important details. Dark Waters does the best it can, but slower parts are inevitable with this story.
The film makes up for a groggy beginning with its impact later. The audience gets real-life cases of people who are debilitated and disease-ridden by the actions of Dupont.
There are no stronger moments in Dark Waters than Bilott’s depositions where he is grilling the chemical giant and shining a light on people’s suffering. These are the moments you feel a chill down your spine and a tug on your heartstrings simultaneously.
Another scene that sticks out in the film is a “gotcha” moment when Bilott realizes how widespread the issue is. This is the strongest moment of its ability to explain something complicated in Layman’s terms. The entire movie could use more of this approach, but it’s done well here and represents a turning point.
Ruffalo Passion Project
It’s clear this is a passion project for actor and producer Mark Ruffalo, and he lets it show in Dark Waters.
Few actors do more with their platform to discuss relevant issues. Ruffalo extends his voice to the big screen with this film and his enthusiasm comes along with it. It’s not a loud or over-the-top passionate acting job, but when he needs to he fills up the entire screen with his presence.
Ruffalo’s performance has a particular human connection to it. He conveys on screen what you’re feeling in the moment and reacts the way you want to while you watch a corporate giant take advantage of a small town.
The actor is great at playing the “every man who is on a mission”. This topic is also a cause he publicly believes in. Combine those two and you have a perfect casting putting on a vehement performance. It stands out most about Dark Waters.
Should I See Dark Waters?
This film is certainly not for everyone and isn’t for every night out.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller this is not your ideal film. The slow start will have a big impact and you’ll lose interest before Dark Waters is halfway through.
If you’re looking for a powerful true story and a hearty discussion afterward, Dark Waters is a good pick. It provides the thought-provoking commentary you’re looking for.
(Featured Image courtesy of EPK)